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Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concern on Sunday that the public might increasingly view the court as a partisan institution.

Judges need to be “hyper vigilant to ensure that they don’t let personal biases creep into their decisions, because judges are people too,” Barrett said at a conference hosted by the McConnell Center of the University of Louisville.

Introduced by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who founded the center and played a key role in upholding it in the final days of the Trump administration, Barrett has spoken at length about his desire for others to see the Supreme Court as non-partisan.

Barrett said the media reporting of opinions does not reflect the deliberative process in making those decisions. And she insisted that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties”.

“Saying the court’s reasoning is wrong is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan fashion,” said Barrett, whose confirmation of the seat left open by the death of liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented the court’s conservative control. . “I think we have to assess what the tribunal is doing on its own terms. ”

Barrett’s comments followed a high-profile ruling earlier this month in which the 5-4 court refused to intervene to prevent a Texas law banning most abortions from coming into force, prompting outrage from abortion rights groups and President Joe Biden.

Barrett was asked about this decision by students who submitted questions in advance and also asked about another recent court decision in which he refused to block a lower court decision ordering the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era program known informally as Stay in Mexico. . Barrett said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on specific cases.

Several supporters of the right to abortion demonstrated in front of the Hotel Seelbach, where the private event was being held.

Barrett, 49, also spoke about his introduction to court amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying “it’s definitely a different experience.” The court has been hearing pleadings over the phone for more than a year, although it recently announced a return to the courtroom in October.

Barrett described the court as a “warm, collegial place.” She said after being confirmed, a coworker brought Halloween candy to her children. The first mother of school-aged children on the nine-member tribunal also spoke about balancing her work and family life.

“I have an important job, but I’m certainly no more important than anyone else in the grocery store checkout line,” Barrett said, describing how his relationship with his kids – who aren’t. particularly impressed “by her high-profile position – helps her stay grounded in her” normal life “where she is busy” carpools, throwing birthday parties, being ordered “.

When asked what advice she would give to young women who would like to pursue a career in public service, the justice said she would like young women to know that it is possible to raise a family and be successful.

Barrett was confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 vote last year, just over a month after Ginsburg’s death.

Democrats opposed his nomination, arguing the process was rushed and the winner of the 2020 presidential election should have been able to pick Ginsburg’s replacement. McConnell’s decision to go ahead with Barrett’s appointment contrasted with the position he took in 2016, when he refused to consider President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the seat left vacant by the death of the Judge Antonin Scalia in February of the same year. McConnell blocked hearings for then-judge Merrick Garland, now Biden’s attorney general, saying the choice should be left to voters in an election year.

The conference was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the McConnell Center. Founded in 1991, the non-partisan center provides educational and scholarship opportunities to students at the University of Louisville. Three other Supreme Court justices, most recently Justice Neil Gorsuch, spoke at the center.

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Hudspeth Blackburn is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


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