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Indiana’s senators introduce SCOTUS nominee on first day of hearings



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Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., laugh together during Braun's victory speech Nov. 6, 2018, at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Matt Begala

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was officially introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as her confirmation hearings began. Senator Todd Young, R-Ind., speaking from an office near Monument Circle in Indianapolis, spoke to Barrett’s qualifications. 

“I first met with professor Barrett in the spring of 2017, and it was abundantly clear that she was a star,” Young said. “A brilliant legal scholar, she was and is held in the highest regard by her peers in the legal world. Her integrity and character are unimpeachable.“

Young, along with former senator Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, encouraged her nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit be moved forward, in 2017. 

“Simply, she possessed all of the necessary qualities to be a great appellate court judge then and to be a great Supreme Court justice now,” Young said. 

In the past few weeks, Republican senators have been warning against any attacks from their political rivals over Barrett’s catholic faith. When she was first nominated to the Seventh Circuit, Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., brought up the issue

“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things,” Feinstein said in 2017. “And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”

Young addressed those comments in his introduction of Barrett.

“Unfortunately, some resorted to attacks on Judge Barrett’s religious convictions,” Young said. “I can tell you that in Indiana, and in much of the country, faith is viewed as an asset in a public servant, not a liability.”

Senator Mike Braun, R-Ind., spoke from his hometown of Jasper, Indiana. In his introduction of Barrett, he added his own comments regarding her faith. He was one of the first senators from the midwest to announce support for Barrett’s nomination. 

“Liberals and conservatives alike are bound by the constitution’s firm edict that no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust in the United States,” Braun said. “I believe hostility towards Judge Barrett’s religious beliefs today could set a dangerous precedent of hostility towards other religious beliefs tomorrow.”

Despite concerns regarding her faith when she was first nominated to the federal bench, she was confirmed 55–43 to the Court of Appeals. Her nomination to the Supreme Court is expected to be a partisan fight, which could result in a partisan vote. 

Young spoke of Barrett’s time on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which services Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. 

“As a member of that court, Judge Barrett’s proven that she is a rather brilliant jurist who interprets the constitution as written and carefully weighs the facts of a given case,” Young said.

Barrett heard more than 600 cases in her time on the Seventh Circuit, authoring over 100 opinions. Additionally, she was the first woman from Indiana to serve on the Seventh Circuit. Should she be confirmed to the Supreme Court, she will bring some diversity to the nation’s highest court in terms of education, Braun said. 

“When confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett will become the only justice of the Supreme Court who spent the majority of her professional life in middle America, not on the east coast,” Braun said. “When confirmed, she will be the only sitting justice who did not receive her law degree from Harvard or Yale. When confirmed, she will be only the second current justice to join the court from west of the nation’s capital.”

Young, who also pledged support for Barrett early in the nomination process, ended his introduction with a call to other senators to support her nomination to the Supreme Court. 

“It’s my hope that this body will confirm Judge Barrett in a bipartisan fashion, so that we will soon find another Hoosier doing something very important on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Young said.

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