Justice Barrett’s Keynote Address at Notre Dame

Justice Barrett was the keynote speaker today at the Notre Dame Law Review symposium. Otter produced a transcript of the speech.

It was all about federal equity. Barrett was a Justice Scalia clerk in the past year, which I recognized. Grupo Mexicano I was not aware that the case was hers. Barrett confirmed the fact.

During the Q&A session, Barrett was asked about her transition from academia to the Seventh Circuit to the Supreme Court. Her answer was that it is “very difficult” to transition from academia to the Seventh Circuit and the Supreme Court.

The bread and butter of the job, I believe, is mostly the same. The job involves reading briefs and thinking about cases. You also write opinions. You can learn more about the Supreme Court docket, and how it functions. Cert petitions and emergency applications are two examples of things you will encounter on the Court of Appeals. My view is that the most important changes in the way you handle cases are in the context. You know as a circuit judge that courts of appeals have mandatory jurisdiction so they are not able to watch every case. The Seventh Circuit Blog is not like SCOTUSblog. It doesn’t pick apart all cases on the docket. The visibility of cases is what I like and it makes me feel as though I am learning a new skill. This is like riding a bicycle with everyone watching. It’s hard to adjust to being public. This is a huge shift. This is what I meant for my work as a professor of law and then as a seventh-circuit judge. Then, of course, it is an enormous shift in my life from when I used to be in this building daily. It’s a huge shift. This is a significant shift from my time clerking at the court. That’s not true. The internet didn’t exist at the time I corrected the court. But social media did not. It was not the increase in the usage of social media and news. Images of justices and judges are more widely available. One time I visited the Great Hall, where visitors can go through displays when I was a clerk at the court. My friend, who was a clerk for Justice O’Connor, was with me in the great hall. A tourist approached Justice O’Connor to ask for directions. They had no idea they were speaking to Justice O’Connor. That would seem unlikely, as it is more difficult today to remain anonymous due to the spread of photos everywhere. It’s been difficult for me to adjust to this aspect of my job.

A couple of moments later, another individual asked Barrett if any of her clerks have read SCOTUSBlog. Barrett has a little digression on the types of news that she reads. This was not the kind of question she’d ever faced before. To be honest, I am not certain what her policy is.

Let’s just say that I have never spoken to my clerks about whether or not they are reading the SCOTUS blog. It would surprise me if the majority of law clerks within the building didn’t. It is my policy not to read. I don’t read the news. Although I am not ignorant, I try to avoid reading any news that is not relevant. It’s not that I don’t want to learn about the court. Although I read the opinions as a whole, it doesn’t matter if they are negative or positive. I believe that reading and consuming media is not good for me. I know that there are institutional and personal reasons. For example, judges who have life tenure can protect them from criticisms. It is a poor idea to criticize the court. You know that you should not be making anyone or any constituency happy.

She then identifies the risk that those in high-profile positions know well: negative media can cause you to lose your cool!

On a personal note, this is just plain wrong. You shouldn’t eat anything that is critical or mean. It’s not a high-quality book, but I don’t think it should. It wouldn’t be steady in my case. Why should you consume flattering, you mean articles about yourself? Because, on a personal basis, it is the day I believe I’m better than everyone else at the grocery shop checkout line. I think I did my best to not read anything and to keep it from affecting me.

Her coverage isn’t a constant diet of “flattering”, she says. No kidding. This comment harkens back at the speech by “partisan hackers”. Evidently, she said that her concern was about the Supreme Court’s public image. She said that apparently because there is no recorded evidence.

Barrett even thinks about it. This is why she refuses to read the media. It is difficult to avoid press coverage. It is easy to click. It is difficult to resist the temptation of clicking. You can simply reply, “I don’t care about what they write.” Period. Complete stop.

Justice Scalia’s remarks about the Supreme Court are fond memories of mine. New Yorker:

How do you consume your media? What are you reading?
We get our newspapers every morning.

Is “we” a reference to the justices
No! Maureen, I.

Oh, you and your wife …
These are the ones I prefer to skim. We just get The Wall Street Journal Washington Times. We used to get the Washington Post, but it just … went too far for me. It was too much.

Was there something that pushed you to the limit?
It dealt with almost all conservative issues. The treatment was often a bit slanted, and sometimes even quite nasty. It was slanted and often nasty. Why should it make me upset every day? It’s not like I’m the only one. Because they got so shrill, I believe they lost subscribers. Shrilly liberal.

So no New York Times, either?
No New York TimesNo Post.

Do you ever look online at any item?
The radio is where I listen to most of my news.

NPR is not for you?
NPR is sometimes used. Sometimes NPR is not used.

Justice Barrett may also be a tribute to Judge Silberman.

The New York Times, and The Washington Post are the most important papers in history. They’re both almost Democratic Party broadsheets. . . .  Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even National Public Radio, which is government-funded, follows suit.

Justice Barrett will she, perhaps, read the post? She is the one who reads it, and so does Justice Barrett. We don’t know.

Justice Barrett ought to screen out all questions more quickly. Barrett is a dedicated professor who will answer all questions carefully. And when Barrett goes off script, she offers a real stream-of-conscience. She makes mistakes. Remember, the “partisan hacks” line arose during Q&A.

Justice Barrett, on the positive side, is the one Justice who actually listened. Encanto soundtrack.

Justice Cavanaugh was the first woman to get this job, and he has children of school age. When the Chief Justice began, he was a parent to school-age children. I don’t know about anyone else. Yes, there were. I was the first mother to raise school-age children. Recently, I told a friend that I felt certain that, the day prior to my appearance in court, the Encanto soundtrack was being played by only me. I was the only one walking in to courtroom wearing Bruno.

Notes on singing Bruno.