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A blind former law school student of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett spoke in support of the Notre Dame law professor ahead of Senate confirmation hearings set to begin on Monday.
Laura Wolk, a graduate of Notre Dame Law School, testified to Barrett’s intelligence and character in a Sunday video from The Daily Signal along with several other young women who know Barrett personally as her former clerks and students. Wolk, who is blind, said that Barrett went beyond her role as a professor to help Wolk succeed.
“I had the privilege of having then-Professor Barrett at Notre Dame Law School for two classes,” Wolk began. “There are still many barriers that a blind person faces in terms of accessing information. I couldn’t read my textbooks. I couldn’t take notes. I was really struggling to keep up in class. It was a really terrifying experience.”
Wolk went to Barrett for help with her classes, expecting practical advice on campus resources for students with learning disabilities. At the meeting, Wolk said that Barrett took a personal interest in her student’s struggles and kicked off a relationship that lasted through Wolk’s law school career.
“When I went to go talk to her, I found myself just talking to her not only about my technology problems, but also about all of the other struggles that I was having as a blind person at Notre Dame,” Wolk said. “Professor Barrett, she was very kind. She just allowed me to talk and to say my piece and to get out all of my emotions and, at the end of it, she just very quietly but completely matter-of-factly told me, ‘This is not your problem anymore. It’s my problem.’”
“Professor Barrett, you know, she just proved to be this presence where she would occasionally check in on me as things were proceeding, asking me how I was doing,” Wolk continued. “She was willing to be there as a support even when it had absolutely nothing to do with her role as being a professor for me.”
Wolk went on to describe how Barrett had celebrated with her after Wolk received a clerkship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and how Barrett modelled the type of attorney and person that Wolk aims to be.
“When I received an offer to clerk on the D.C. Circuit, I didn’t immediately get a chance to tell her. She just kind of pulled me aside after class and asked, ‘Have you heard any updates about the clerkship?’ and I told her that I had gotten it,” Wolk said. “She just sort of gasped and reached down and grabbed my hand and was just so emotive and expressive of how happy she was for me.”
“I don’t want to be the type of lawyer who is just cutthroat. I don’t think that serves our profession well. Professor Barrett is someone who has showed me and has showed countless other young women that it is possible to be a very effective lawyer, judge, professor, counselor of any kind and still be compassionate and still understand that no matter what you’re doing, it affects people,” Wolk concluded.