The Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee are evidently thrilled that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, has managed to have children.
“She and her husband have seven children, two adopted,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chair, during his opening statement during Barrett’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. That was the only comment Graham made about Barrett as a person, after spending minutes running through her judicial bonafides.
“Judge Barrett is a tireless mother of seven,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. “For decades, I’ve led tireless efforts in the Senate to improve foster care and promote adoption, so it’s a privilege for me to welcome a justice like that to the Supreme Court.”
“You are the oldest of seven children, which means that long before you had your own seven children, you were also the de facto mother to many others,” added Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican. “The way things often work in large families is such that the oldest children often takes on responsibilities at an early age.”
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn managed to even work in his praise of Barrett’s family with a reminder that he is, indeed, a father of daughters.
“They want to know how you do it,” Cornyn told Barrett. “I bet there’s many young women, like my own two daughters, who marvel at the balance that you’ve achieved between your personal and professional life.”
If confirmed, Barrett, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, would be the first justice on the Supreme Court to be the mother of school-age children.
After Democrats on the committee brought up concerns about how Barrett would rule on the Affordable Care Act—which the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on in November—Grassley brought up her children as apparent proof of her judicial approach to the legislation (parts of which she has criticized).
“That’s outrageous,” he thundered. “As a mother of seven, Judge Barrett clearly understands the importance of health care.”
Lee had gone into isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus just 10 days ago. Like many other Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he attended the Rose Garden ceremony where Trump introduced Barrett; several attendees, including Trump himself, have since tested positive for the coronavirus.
Barrett brought her children to that ceremony. At least some of her children also appeared at Monday’s hearing.
Cover: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)