Oct 12 2020

“Judge Barrett’s rulings aren’t meant to be for or against a particular policy outcome. She’s not a legislator, that is supposed to be our job. However, when the minority party cannot get their bad policies passed, they turn to the courts and demand that judges interpret the law not as written—but as they prefer to be.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave his opening remarks on the first day of the hearing to consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Watch video of Senator Tillis’ remarks here.

Senator Tillis’ Opening Remarks:

Thank you Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein, I want to take a moment and join many of my colleagues in honoring the life and legacy of the late Justice Ginsburg. She was a living legend and a giant in the legal world—as a professor, as a lawyer, and of course as a judge and Justice. She was an inspiration and role model, and we honor her legacy and I hope her family knows we mourn her loss.

We’re here today to consider the nomination of an incredibly qualified jurist to the United States Supreme Court: Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

First, she’s a top-notch legal scholar and professor in the mold of the late Justice Scalia. Her work is widely respected within the legal community, and it is clear why her former students voted for her multiple times to be the Distinguished Professor of the Year at Notre Dame Law School. It’s also why every full-time faculty member at Notre Dame Law School supports her. 

Her legal work and teaching have inspired hundreds of young lawyers, especially aspiring female lawyers.

She’s also a remarkable mother. She has seven beautiful children, and, in spite of being an incredibly busy working mother, she also makes time to be involved in her community.

This nomination is important because it is going have a lasting impact on the history of our Republic. A Justice’s service on the bench touches on some of the most-important issues and questions facing our constitutional republic.

What are the limits of abusive and intrusive government power? What is the proper role of each branch of government?  What are the basic fundamental protections that our Constitution grants all Americans?  

These are all key and foundational questions that the Supreme Court considers every term. If confirmed, Judge Barrett will be tasked with answering them. 

But it is not the rights enshrined in the Constitution that is most important, it’s the structure of the document itself that makes us free. Justice Scalia understood this principle well. As he was fond of saying: 

“Every…dictator in the world today, every president for life, has a Bill of Rights. That’s not what makes us free… What has made us free is our Constitution. Think of the word ‘constitution;’ it means structure.”

Justice Scalia went on to note that “the genius” of our founding generation is that they dispersed power across multiple departments. The real danger to our constitutional republic was the “centralization” of power in any one part of government. When that happens, liberty dies and tyranny reigns.

And that’s why it is imperative that Supreme Court Justices maintain their proper role: to decided cases and not to make policy. In recent decades, the Court has drifted towards too often a model where it decides major policy disputes, rather than reserving those decisions for the American people, acting through their elected and politically accountable representatives. 

Article III judges cannot, and should not, be policymakers. Several of my colleagues have engaged in extreme hyperbole and described Judge Barrett’s nomination as an end to healthcare, abortion rights, labor rights, and the list goes on and on and on.

These statement are unfair and untrue. This week, they will attempt to have Judge Barrett commit to policy outcomes instead of doing the work in the U.S. Senate. Just last month, while they falsely claiming Judge Barrett’s nomination would bring an end to protections for pre-existing conditions, every single Democrat on this committee voted against a measure to do just that. They are failing to do their job and they want the court to do it for them. 

My review of Judge Barrett’s record convinces me she is not only one of the most qualified individuals to ever be nominated, but she understands the proper role of the Article III branch. She reaches conclusions dictated by the law, not by personal preference. 

My Democratic friends decry the idea that a nominee has a predetermined outcome in mind while in the same breath demanding the nominee agree to their preferred outcome of a case. The hypocrisy is incredible.

They ignore a central fact. Judge Barrett’s rulings aren’t meant to be for or against a particular policy outcome. She’s not a legislator. That is supposed to be our job. However, when the minority party cannot get their bad policies passed here, they turn to the courts and demand that judges interpret the law not as written—but as they prefer to be.

Her opinions simply order the outcome the law dictates—as passed by Congress, a politically accountable branch. Nothing more, nothing less.

My Democratic colleagues claim to care about the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. If they care about our constitutional liberties then they should care about confirming a judge who understands the proper role of the Supreme Court.

Rights granted by 9 can just as easily be ended by 9. To quote Justice Ginsburg “real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” It doesn’t happen by judicial fiat. 

Judge Barrett understands that principle. She knows the role of a Supreme Court Justice. And she is the most-qualified person for this job.

Judge Barrett, when we met in the Capitol, I asked you to do me the honor of signing two pocket constitutions for my granddaughters.

In each of them you wrote “Dream Big!” When they are old enough to understand the significance, I’m going to explain to them that just like Justice Barrett, they can, with enough grit, hard-work, and raw determination, realize their American dream.

So, for the next few days, when members of this Committee mischaracterize your views, and their allies in the liberal media are saying terrible things about you and your family, stand tall, stand proud, and stand true.

Lean heavily on your faith, and know that you are an inspiration to millions of young women in this country, like my granddaughters, and we are proud of you.

Thank you Judge Barrett for being with us today. Congratulations, and I look forward to your testimony.