tv Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Life the Supreme Court CSPAN April 29, 2022 7:13pm-8:03pm EDT
supreme court justice amy coney barrett sat down for a conversation at the ronald reagan presidential library in california. she talked about her confirmation hearings. being one of the newest members of the supreme court and serving on the nation's high court during the covid-19 pandemic. >> thank you john, after that very kind introduction, i know at least i have to buy you a round at the pub. good evening everyone, welcome to the reagan presidential library. thank you for joining us for what we know
will be a fascinating conversation. and i would like particularly thank justice amy coney barrett for being with us here this evening. as you can see we have a full house here at the library, we also have a large national audience watching us on live screen, at least until the college basketball game gets close. [laughs]. and speaking of sports, since you are a notre dame graduate justice barrett, you are in notre dame territory. which is where the notre dame offense has been the last few years anyway. [laughs]. of all the accomplish guests that we welcome to the reagan library, supreme court justices role take a special place of honor. over the years the reagan library have been fortunate to have justices o'connor, thomas, ginsburg, roberts, sotomayor, and gorsuch. today we are honored
to add justice barrett to this list. although justice barrett joined the high court after three decades after ronald reagan join -- but she work many ways to show the enduring power of his legacy. first president reagan made history in 1981, when he nominated sandra day o'connor to be the first woman to serve on the supreme court. that move set the stage for the extraordinary women who would follow her. including justice barrett. justice barrett intern, has made history in her own right. becoming the first mother of school age children to serve as a supreme court justice. [applause] >> she and her husband actually
have seven children. which may be the best preparation for the high court. after all she is used to or custom to wrangling a group of nine. justice barrett has also spoken eloquently about how to reagan nominees, d. c. circuit judge lawrence silverman, and the late justice anthony scalia, were important mentors to her. during the senate confirmation hearing, she said her time lurking for justice scalia, taught her so much, he was delighted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism. now justice barrett is sharing these lessons with a new generation of young lawyers. another connection to president reagan might be less obvious. for all of his film roles, president reagan often said when he enjoyed most was
playing for today football star george gipp in the film knute rockne all american. and as one white house aide said -- that's why he went to school. so i'm quite certain if president reagan could be here tonight, he'd be thrilled to welcome a notre dame alumni to his library. we are excited to have you here, please join me in welcoming associate justice of the supreme court of united states amy coney barrett [applause] [inaudible] yes. [applause] well thank you for joining us this evening,
justice brett. i should say in terms of full disclosure, although i'm not practicing lawyer, i am a member standing of supreme court barr. and at least, at the beginning of the evening, i am. i hope by the end of the evening i'll -- >> [laughs] >> i hope is that for that any [inaudible] questions you have [inaudible] out of line. >> well here we are the reagan presidential library and were thrilled we were able to give a chance for you to see the library this afternoon. and i was just wondering, if i have done my math right, you were a third grader when ronald reagan was elected president, and you were in junior high school actually a high school student, when he left office. >> yes. >> and i was just wondering if you could share some thoughts on what it was like being a young person and growing up in ronald reagan's america? >> so, i was in third grade. in 1980, when ronald reagan was elected. and in our third grade classroom, as in many great schools across the country, every time there's a presidential election we held a mock election, and supreme
court justices can't talk about their politics, past or present, so i will tell you what my nine-year-old self, but i cast my vote for the election. but it's the first election that i have any consciousness of. because i was in school at that point, ronald reagan was the president. so in many respects, and we get this election. i paid some attention to it. and so i would say that in my formative years for my -- my formative years might be the wrong word to use -- but i he shaped my idea of what a president should be because he was the president that i knew became conscious, somewhat, of what was going on in politics, when i first started paying attention. >> terrific. well, we are so glad that you can visit the library, and we hope you return again. >> it is wonderful. i've been told it was a wonderful library, and it exceeded expectations. it's really magnificent. >> terrific. well, the timing of our conversation is unique tonight. i have to imagine that watching another person going through the confirmation process might bring back some
memories of your own -- >> [laughs] -- >> i want to ask if you are regretting the chance not to come before the senate again -- >> [laughs] -- >> it's a process that so few americans have been through, and it's such a hyhighrids profile process. announcement is made that someone will be on the court, and names are circulated, and weeks go by, and a decision is finally made, and the confirmation begins. i was just wondering if you could just wonder if you could share a little with us about how it was for you and your family in that process and how you knew you had been selected to be the nominee. >> so my process was a little bit unique as, you're describing, fred, it's typical that [inaudible] and names that weeks are circulating. might have a data compressed timeframe. and my husband and i were out to dinner on the friday night that justice ginsburg passed away. and we were with two friends, both of whom happened to be lawyers, enjoying this wonderful meal,
and then our phone started going off, and we learned that justice ginsburg had passed away. so, it was a very -- it was a loss of the great american, very sad occasion, kind of obviously put a damper on the meal. and we went home, and i had been considered for the vacancy that arose when justice kennedy retired in 2018, and we also knew, and the marshals in charge of the northern district of indiana and south bend in particular knew that regardless of what happened at that point, i was likely to become the object of media scrutiny again. so that weekend, in which i had intended to go to costco and go to my daughter's soccer game, the marshals advised me not to leave my house, just because they weren't exactly sure what would happen, just given the intense scrutiny at the time. and that weekend, i was contacted by the white house counsel and invited to come and interview that week, and it all just happened very quickly. and
it didn't give my husband and i a lot of time to make a decision about whether we would be open to it or not. we had discussed it in 2018, but this was, you know, two years later. and so, you know, things had changed. so, we had kind of a very brass tacks -- are we up for this or are we not? and jesse said, you know, this is an opportunity to serve our country. and if you want to do it, i'm all in. but if we do it, we're burning the boats. and he said the confirmation process is going to be hard if you are selected, and then if you are confirmed, there will be a lot of hard things that we face about the job, and there just cannot be any looking back. so, if you agree on those terms, then i'm in. so, that was kind of our mantra, burned the boats, and as things get hard, we burned about, no looking back. and then we moved forward. >> i heard, i guess it was the previous time your name was
floated, i heard a story about the efforts of some people to get a photo of you -- >> [laughs] i -- >> i don't know if you want to share the links to go to, [inaudible] privacy. >> i will. [inaudible] and i were chatting about this in the green room. so in 2018, when there was a lot of speculation about who would be selected for justice kennedy's seat, there was, you know, i don't know, five media trucks that parked outside of my house for days and days on end. and some were very aggressive. as i told fred, it was not the washington post. but some were aggressive, and i was trying to drive my car down the street and they would open the doors to block -- >> [inaudible]---enslaver of women! [laughter] [inaudible] --
>> much off seven, i am used to >> -- as a mother of seven, i am used to distractions. [laughter] and sometimes even outbursts! [laughter] [applause] so [inaudible]. >> this was about the effort to get a photo of you -- >> [laughs] yes. so, one study warning, usually the media trucks would show up, you know, around eight, and it was a sunday morning, and i was going to head to mass, and so, i left the house before i thought they were going to come, and one showed up, and i lead them on a chase through the neighborhood, because i really didn't want to be followed. it was very proud of myself, because i managed to shake their most confident. parked the car at our church, and when i went to go walk in, i saw one of the suburbans that i recognized from outside the house coming the other way. so i spent the whole time -- i was telling fred during the service -- plotting how i could escape without giving the media the satisfaction of the picture of me outside of a church. i made
an exit out of a side door before it was over that i had never exited before, and it turns out there was a reason for that, it didn't actually exit out. [laughter] but it rather wet you do the priest's private residence in the yard. [laughter] and so i'm standing there, i'm in the yard, and there is a feds, and so i faced a choice. i could either hop the fence -- [laughter] -- or i could go out the front and give them this picture. so i decided, in my high heels, to climb the fence -- [laughter] -- so gracefully! [laughter] and when i dropped down on the other side, i see our associate pastor, who says, amy, what are you doing in our vegetable garden? [laughter] but he turned out to be a great coconspirator, and father dan helped me make my escape without giving them that picture. so. [laughter] [applause] >> maybe we could talk your,
through the confirmation, you're on the t court, and as far as i know, there's not a handbook for new justices or an orientation book. who helped you learned the most in your first year as a justice? >> all the justices were so welcoming. you know, on the night that i was confirmed, i honestly, that night was popular, so i can't remember who called first. but both the chief justice and justice sotomayor called immediately to extend their congratulations. justice sotomayor shared with me her law clerk manual that she used in chambers, and she said it had meant a lot to her when other justices had done that, and all of the justices came by to say hello, had lunch, offered advice. and i would say that starting the job, there is no handbook, and i was starting mid term. i was confirmed and then there were arguments the following monday. so, i was scrambling. i had to set up chambers and hire staff and get up and running on the oral arguments, read the briefs. my family was still living in
south bend, so i was commuting back and forth and trying to make quick adjustments to make that happen. so it was a very overwhelming time. and there isn't a manual. but i think i, i was saying to someone recently, that the job is a little bit like parenting in that you -- i think in my case, and i think it many people's cases, you learn how to parent by watching your parents and not that you imitate everything they did, right, but it's what you like and what you don't like. and there is a model against which you decide what you are going to do. and so, you mentioned that i clerked for judge silverman and justice scalia, so walking in, i had some idea of, you know, how they rounded chambers, how they interacted with their law clerks, the process that they used to decide cases, and so i had those models to choose from and decide what part of it i was going to adopt and what parts i might do differently. >> well you have a new justice
in the court at some point soon -- is their advice you would offer to the new justice? >> let's see. i think it's hard to even know what to say. and i'm sure everybody's experience is so difficult, so different, and difficult. i think that in new justice is likely to start in october, and so, fortunately, there will be some lead time. and in the summer, you know, hopefully there will be an opportunity, you know, to ramp up and do some of those things in advance. i think one of the difficult things that i experienced -- i wasn't fully prepared for -- was the shift into being a public figure and also security is much different now than it was when i was clerking on the board. you know, justice scalia did not have security. we all have security details, and that's different, and so, i've actually thought about what would i say to a new justice and what to brace for. and i think those are some of the things that are hardest.
>> i can't buy a quote by you, back in your days when you were a clerk in the supreme court -- >> [laughs] it's about the supreme -- >> it's about the supreme court cafeteria. and the court was, it's not a place he would choose for a date night [applause] have you had a chance to improve since [inaudible] i [laughs] don't remember saying that, but it certainly is true. it would not be a date night destination or it would be a very brief relationship if it were. [laughter] it is tradition of the court that the junior justice serves on the cafeteria committee. [applause] and justices who have been my predecessors have given such contributions to the cafeteria as justice kagan proudly contributed a fro-yo machine [laughter] and justice kavanaugh, notably, brought pizza to the cafeteria. justice breyer good yeoman's work for 11 years because he was junior justice for the longest stretch
in recent times. but i had, you know, i guess is good luck, because i came in during covid when the cafeteria was largely closed -- [laughter] -- so i didn't really have much opportunity. i never went to a single committee meeting, and i also had the good fortune of coming in. i did have some ideas of what i would want to do. i thought it would be great to have a starbucks bar, and that was what i was thinking, we're going to have starbucks coffee, because the coffee had not been very good. it but it turns out there was a beautiful renovation of the cafeteria that was done right before i began, and we have starbucks, so come visit our cafeteria. i still would not call it a destination for date night, but it really is very lovely, and i had nothing to do with it. [laughter] >> let's talk a little bit about the court as an institution. although it was not the case for much of the court's long history, today many of the justices have working spouses. your husband jesse remains a practicing lawyer. what do you see as some
of the challenges of balancing two careers when one is in service to the supreme court? >> i think that for us, the challenges that we face or those that, you know, couples who are both working and have children at home always face. i mean, we balance now in the same way that we've balanced our whole marriage and who is going to do white for childcare, and sweating ourselves thin. and jesse is very generous in picking up a lot of the slack. he is working largely out of a home office right now, and so, that gives him a little bit of flexibility, which is much appreciated by me. you know, jesse is a lawyer, and so we are very careful to avoid conflicts. not all justices who have working spouses have spouses who are lawyers. the chief does, although his wife is no longer actually practicing law. so, it isn't something that we are very conscious of and very careful about, but, you know, i think we are living in a time when we have a lot of couples who are both are working, and so i
think that the court and society has to adjust to expect that. i don't think most of the spouses would be happy about those guidelines. certainly when i tried to get my husband guidelines about what to do or not to do in the house, it can go over very well. so, you know the court is very like i said, everybody is very attentive to those kinds of things. >> one thing that a lot of people think about the supreme court is that in order to be a justice you have to have been either have been a judge or a lawyer. but that is not the case? do you think it should be a requirement to be a lawyer, to be on the supreme court? or is there another profession that would prepare you all for that? >> i think it's an interesting question. it's not a constitutional requirement that you have to be a lawyer. it is a very difficult thing for me
to imagine, you know to be successfully on the supreme court without being a layer -- you know but -- interesting though it's only in more recent times that everyone who has served on the supreme court has had a degree from the law school. and justice -- was one of the last justice to serve on the court having earned his law degree through an apprenticeship. he didn't actually have a degree from a law school. i think it's certainly not the case that all supreme court justices had to have served as judges first. elena kagan, my colleague, was not a judge before joining the supreme court. she had been dean of harvard law school, she had been the solicitor general of the united states. but chief justice taft had been president of the united states before joining the supreme court. so many different professional backgrounds i think could do the job. but it's really difficult for me to see how
someone who wasn't a lawyer could've done this. >> you mentioned the law schools, and you are the only justice on the court at the moment who didn't go to either harvard or yale. and i know you've said you could teach the others a bit about football. but do you think that you know what are your thoughts on the diversity of the schools represented and what's it look like going forward? >> i think diversity is everything is good including background of education. people choose law schools for all different reasons. i mean, i chose notre dame because i was attracted to it as an institution. i also had a full scholarship and i didn't know what i was going to do after law school and i didn't want to be required to go to a large law firm to go pay off debt. so i think it's valuable to allow people to feel like they can make many different choices and receive great educations at other institutions besides harvard and yale without taking themselves out of the running to pursue certain professional opportunities.
>> so term limits are something that is discussed, and the younger judges seen that the term limits they favor them but the older ones do not favor term limits, so do you have a view on term limits? >> i think that congress, you know has a lot of control over shaping the federal courts generally. it possesses that by virtue of the constitution. there was recently a commission that president biden formed to look at this. and some favorite term limits and there was a vigorous debate about it. about whether they would be constitutional. and it is a question of public policy on which there is a debate about the constitutionality of it all. so i can't expression opinion of it. i feel like i'm in a confirmation hearing. i can't say one way or the other. [laughs]. >> hey, those guys are 20 years older than i am. >> but i do think that the conversation the conversation
that the supreme court commission had about it was it an interesting one where some of the people are interested in some of the opposing views, in a live look to that. do >> you have a view of how long some trust in the court? >> i think it's a personal decision. i think it really depends you know, people age differently. as justice ginsburg used to say, as long as she can do the job and do it well, i think that's a philosophy that many have in their working lives generally, so i think it's a personal decision. i think each justice makes that decision for him or herself. >> sure. >> when you compare the court to the executive branch and the legislative branch, the supreme court seems to be shrouded in a bit more mystery. so for example, the hearings only more recently have been audio. first there was a delay audio, now they are real audio. so do you have a view on whether there should be some type of stationary camera there so you can see what's happening in the court?
>> so the idea that, of having cameras in the supreme court, is one that comes up a lot. you know i was asked about it at my confirmation hearing, and certainly not something that anyone justice has the authority to decide. you know that would be something that would be decided by consensus and mmaybe the chief could do on his own. and i see maybe the chief could do that on his own. but i think that because it's the kind of thing that i can't do unilaterally and i want to express an opinion on it but one thing that i would throw out, and i think when people imagine cameras in the courtroom they imagine a fly on the wall. so you imagine being able to have a camera that nobody can see that's there and it's just a window into what's happening in the court. but i guess i would say in thinking about all of the pros and cons of the cameras in the courtroom one way or one thing to think about is that people don't behave the same when they know there's a camera there than they do if there is not a camera there. so what we want is to let the american people and allow them to see what is
happening in the court. and in many ways the audio they don't need to see our faces, but the audio really gives that window whereas the camera would risk, i think, changing the nature of the proceedings and that's not to say that maybe that trade-off is not worth it, but i don't think that that piece of the trade-off gets it done as much. and i think it's institutions go i think, fred, you are right that the court is shrouded in some secrecy. because internal deliberations happen privately rather than in debate on the floor like in congress so they happen privately and the executive branch and in some parts of congress's work as well, but we are very transparent with respect to our reasoning and our decisions and our opinions and how they're published, and all of our reasoning is laid bare. so the courtroom is open to the public and during non covid times, we're closed to the public right now because of the pandemic. so we do want the american people to see our work. i mean we try to show our work. i think cameras are just
a uniquely tricky issue. >> speaking of opinions, this term the court will likely issue opinions on some high-profile, emotional subjects that regardless of how they are decided there will be certain segment of people who are disappointed and maybe even angry. when we live in a time where institutions are always under attack and being diminished, how does the court preserve the integrity of the institution and retain the respect and dignity it deserves? >> so i think that writing the opinions and i think i would urge all engaged and interested americans to read the opinions, i know the speaking for myself and i've heard several of my colleagues say this as well as well as colleagues on the lower courts is that when they write opinions they try to write them in a manner that would be accessible to informed americans. and i think when
congress enacts a law, something has driven by policy, you just have the bottom line. yes, cameras in the courtroom, or pick your topic of the day. so there is no explanation or reasoning behind it. because it is just the result that matters. but that is not how the court works. it's not just the result that matters. i think that you can disagree with the result and actually i used to tell this to my students that constitutional law. i would ask them on the first day and i would give them a couple of the court's big cases like citizens united or heller which is the second amendment case. or roe v. wade. and i would ask for a show of hands on who thought the court was right or who thought the court was wrong with respect to each of those cases. anyway you get shows of hands and people fought passionately. but then at least by the way, these were first year law students. and when i asked who had read those decisions, there weren't a lot of hands going up. and in their defense, they it not been assigned in class but still i
think that one thing and certainly i, even serving on the court, have opinions about the results of decisions. but justices aren't deciding cases. no judge is deciding a case in order to impose a policy result. they are trying to make their best effort to determine what the law requires and what the constitution requires, the statute requires. i guess some would say it is perfectly fair game to say that you dislike the results of the case. it's also perfectly fair game to say that the court got it wrong. but i think if you're going to make the latter claim that the court got it wrong, you have to engage with the court's reasoning first. and i think you should read the opinion and see, does this read like something that would purely be results driven, and to look at the preference of the majority. or would it read as an honest
effort, a persuasive one, even if one you ultimately don't agree with, to determine what the constitution and the president requires as applied to the particular problem at hand. >> somewhat related to that, i know you spoke out about concerns about the court not being a -- body, what can the court due to correct this perception? >> i think the opinion writing process, i think that's part of it. i think the court and i'm saying the court, but what i'm saying is actually applicable to all federal courts. it is accountable in its reasoning. and i think that actually, this is the measure and this is the standard by what the american people should judge the court. is the court laying out its reasoning? is it the reasoning as a political or legislative body? or is it judicial? is it reasoning from all the traditional tools that inform
our body of precedent -- you know, prior precedents and statutes. i think the way that the justices write opinions in measured tones i think that is important and i think the way the justices talk about the court and relate to one another, the court truly is very collegial. even when we disagree with one another about the results of a case, how a case should be decided and the reasoning of the case, you know we always we've been honored to be a part of the institution. and i have been grateful for the collegiality and the respect and the you know what the members of the court show for one another. i think americans would be better off if we all showed that level of respect even to those even whom we disagree with. [applause].
>> and just what we're talking about areas where we disagree, there's a growing concern about intolerance for free speech even in law school at colleges and in law school campuses. so what do these incidents say about the state of our democracy and what would you you know what advice would you give students who passionately disagree with the viewpoints here on campus? >> i'm a passionate defender of the first amendment, and the first amendment applies to public universities. it does not apply to private universities. but i will just talk about the values of free speech broadly, as applicable to both institutions. and the reason why we have a first amendment and free speech is to protect unpopular speech because popular speech doesn't need the protection. and i think for our democracy to thrive, for our educational institutions to thrive, everything has to be on the table. including protests. i
think there is a place for protests and i think the people need to be able to disagree and need to be able to express ideas. what can't happen especially an academic institutions, is for any ideas to be pushed off the table. i think you have to engage with those ideas, show why those ideas are wrong. but i think it's a really fine line between opening students eyes to the full range of our lived experience as americans, to the full range of the opinions but they will encounter in the world as engaged americans. and protecting each other's feelings and to be clear i do think that we need to protect one another's feelings. and i just spoke a moment ago about civility in discourse. and i think that's one way to foster free speech is to foster civil discourse in which people are able to express their views in
a way which is not hostile to another side and especially for law schools. i think you're training lawyers who are supposed to be engaged and debate and so to shield lawyers, shield buidding lawyers from any kind of debate. you know i don't think as a law professor i think it's not a good model for education. >> as a former professor, i've heard maybe you're writing a book. i would wondered if there was anything that may have inspired you or what the book is about? >> sure, so the meat of the book as you know once the term is over and i essentially decided to write the book because as a professor, i love teaching and it's something i continue to do. i'm still teaching a class at notre dame i haven't given up on that. and i think that is some of the questions you've been asking me tonight, fred, you know i think
people are interested in the court and i think the court is an important institution. it's to our republic and to our way of life. and i think educating americans that's offering a window into the court for americans and that's a valuable service. i think more people should understand what the court does -- you know, and after my confirmation hearings i got a lot of questions from friends including faculty members in other departments outside of the law school at notre dame. and engaged and educated people that reflect that there's a lot that people don't know about the board, even though they generally follow things. like, many people thought the court could decide whatever cases it wanted, you know i wake up one morning, i can decide to the constitutionality of gay
mentioned. that's not how it works at all. the court wait until the cases come to it. so, on a number of different items like that i felt the lights while many of the letters i got from people around the world, questions from people i knew that showed that there was a hunger to know more about the institution that is the supreme court. >> i hope you'll come back during your book tour and we'll talk about it again. >> one thing i think a lot of people don't know about the supreme court, but i was fortunate enough to have a tour by one of your colleagues, and they are very proud to show you that above the court chambers is a basketball court, which they described as the highest court in the land. [laughter] have you had a chance to shoot some baskets there? or do you have something else that you do for your exercise routine? >> as by children who have played horse with me will attest, i'm not a very good shot. so i have not thrown baskets myself at the court, but yes, i've been up to the highest court in the land many times, and it is always a highlight of everyone's tour. my children have gotten to play basketball on the court. >> you are currently the youngest person on the court. and this institution will certainly evolve in the years that you're on the bench. if you were to come back here many
years from now, where would you hope to see the court evolve? what would you like it to look like then? >> let's see. it's hard, it's a very hard question to answer. i guess i would, i hope, that in some ways it didn't evolve too much. i think, as i mentioned before, the court is a very collegial place. i hope that doesn't change. the members of the court are engaged, even though, you know, we have different judicial philosophies at may reach different conclusions, the members of the court are all engaged and in earnest and swear do their best by the constitution and the
american people, and i hope that doesn't change of. the court is growing increasingly diverse, including people from all walks of life. and i hope that doesn't change. i hope that continues. now, the court is -- the court is an institution that has inspired growing democracies in other parts of the. without other class in constitutional law, a small seminar, in which some of the llm students from other countries at notre dame took, and they were always interested in the court and how the court in our country, which was a different experience than some of them had, had gained respect, and how the political branches abided by the decisions, you know, that the court had made, and really that tradition goes back to the beginning of the republic, and to the leadership of john marshall and that hasn't changed. the court has managed to maintain its position of respect in the country, throughout its existence. so i think were i to come back towards the end of my career, i think at the end of the day, i would say that i hope that fewer things had
changed than that did change in the court. >> one thing you encountered during your arrival in the court, unlike any other justice, was during the pandemic. and the limitations that covid placed. how do you think the pandemic affected the court, and as we all try to figure out what the world will be like after the pandemic, do you have any thoughts about the how the court might be? >> so, the pandemic, i will say, that one very, very thin, small silver lining for me was that i do think it made my transition into the court a little bit easier, because, you know, i was commuting back and forth and arguments were remark. and i think that the format, the court, during covid, used a different argument format than it does normally, where we went seriatim one, just after another, each was allocated to certain number of minutes for questions. now if there is a easy way for the new justice to start because i didn't have to come in fighting for floor time and worry about stepping on a senior colleagues toes by being
too aggressive or speaking over them. or, the other side of the spectrum, not being aggressive enough and not getting my questions asked. and i think that one thing that the court has now changed, now that we're back on the bench, that would note from the covid experience, is that that style of question wasn't one that we retained, but we did like the opportunity to not have as much talking over each other and to feel like everyone got their opportunity to have their questions answered, and so we've adopted a new format that allows for more of that, which i think even though it does make arguments longer, has largely, i think, been welcomed as an improvement. i look forward to the day when the court can be open to the public again, so that people can come in and see the court and the public can return to the courtroom for oral argument. i hope that we have much less pandemic law coming before us. >> right. >> but i think, you know, it really remains to be seen. i'm sure there will be many sociology dissertations written in years to come about the effects that the pandemic has had on all of us. >> now that life is a little more normal for justices, could
you tell us a little bit about how you balance, what a day is your in your life is like, with the court, your family, your face, and how you balance all of this? >> so in, some ways, you know, when my oldest daughter, emma, was born, my husband and i were continually engaged in conversations mostly initiated by me, like, i just don't know if i can keep working, i don't know if i'm giving her the attention she needs. we always worked it out. and it was always a lot to juggle, but it kept working out, and the kids were thriving, and just jesse would often tell me, i think that kids would be better off by having not, have you work, and have to be, you know, engaged in all those other things too. because you're around a lot, and it enables him, my working freedom to be -- he was an assistant united states attorney for many years, prosecuting -- and so our being a two income family, and jesse really wanted to be in the usa
so he coached their soccer games. and we were in this small town that was all enough so we could be back and forth to this most quickly. now we will never in washington, the commutes not so great. and it's getting worse now that the pandemic is, thankfully, coming to an end, unfortunately that means cars are back on the road. so we are navigating more, because i can't just get home as quickly during the day as i used to be so, you know, it's a long day. i often pray that my time will be multiplied like the loaves and that fishes. i get up early and i get up usually about five, and, you know, i try to work and exercise. we get the kids off to school in the morning. you know, work, comeback, there's homework, there's soccer, there is a lacrosse, getting everybody where they need to go, getting dinner ready. personal email often falls by the wayside i'm, sorry to say, so i'm not a very good communicator. i take a long
time to get back to people. but it's a very full life, but our kids have been troopers, in the move, and they've adjusted really well. i have the good fortune of having a wonderful husband who does more than his share of the work at home. he's been doing all of our cooking and, you know, that's great. so, we have a very full life but wouldn't trade it. >> you talk about getting away from washington, and that was one thing, president reagan was very keen on, making sure he got away from washington. in fact he had ranches, various ranches, in fact no one not far from the library here in santa barbara. you have a place or thing [inaudible] to just getting away from washington and escape that environment? >> sadly, you know, i was about to say, sadly, i've just trumpeted all of the joys of our family, and i was about to say, sadly, you know, we're on
the cusp of we can't leave on the weekends, because we have soccer and lacrosse and birthday parties to go to. so no, we can't really, we can't leave very often because we do have so many kids activities in case people as, you know, what did you do for fun? or what did you do this weekend? did you get to relax? and usually, it was about, like, four different sporting events and a piano recital. so i look forward to the day when maybe we can get some rest over the weekends although we do look forward this summer, and will spend some time away from washington and that will be welcome. >> a couple of final questions if i could. one, just how being adjust to has changed your relationship with people. you mentioned it takes a little longer to hear back on emails. do you friends call you amy still? or justice barrette?
[laughter] does it help adjudicating differences among your children being a supreme court justice? >> [laughs] if my children in president all by being a supreme court justice it would help adjudicating their disputes. one thing i love about being back in south bend in indiana is that i am just amy. but that was one of the hard things about leaving, because i preferred to be just amy. and so, my husband and i and several of our children we, had a gym that worked out, we had to press for jim and i felt comfortable last year i was getting, going back and continuing to work out with everyone there, not worrying that it would be posted on twitter. because i was just aiming to our friends there. and so, i really, i particularly treasure these days by. long standing and old friendships for the people to whom i am just amy. it is a little bit harder to make new friends, you know, when my order girls who are young, i was a through other, and i was very involved in the school
that they attended, and it's a little bit harder to be that way now, in this fall, i was chasing around our youngest son, who has down's syndrome, at a fund-raiser, so an out door of fair for the school that our youngest daughter is attending, and i'm chasing after him, no one of our family was there, jesse wasn't there, and a very sweet mom at the school came up to me and said, i just thought i'd introduce myself to, because i guess a lot of people don't talk to you. [laughter] which was true it's not out of hostility. i think people could just feel a bit weird when i put my hair in a ponytail and i'm chasing a child around the playground. so there is a difference barrier to relationships and making new friendships that there have been in other parts of my life. >> well as you saw and one thing that was important to president reagan was about the future, not about the past but about the future. and inspiring future generations. and looking around this room, there are a number of young lawyers and
future lawyers here. and i would wonder is there anything that you would say about how you would like your work in your life to be an inspiration for future generations? >> i don't think i've thought about my life in that grandiose a way to say that i want to be an inspiration of future generations. but when i think about what future generations could contribute to the country and to the legal profession, i think what comes to my mind is, first, civility. lawyers, it can be pejorative when people find that yo're a lawyer. and i think you want to argue. i think how they wanted to lawyers can show how it can
debate with another person without it having devolve into being ugly. i think lawyers have a role, and being able to have this debate and collegiality. i think we have to maintain the respect for the rule of law and that becomes cynical. and thinking there is nothing to the rule of law you know like please don't be cynical about the law. and then take civic education,social sitn you're at cocktail parties, talking about the law, talking about things the supreme court has done, talking about decisions, talking about it in an intelligent way that respects the rule of law and shows how people can debate and disagree without having it disintegrate relationships. i think it is a contribution lawyers will make in the future. mr. ryan: that is great advice for all of us, even older lawyers. [applause] thank you, thank you for making time to be here, you have been a great sport and this was a great conversation. we are delighted you're here and we hope you will return many times. justice barrett: thank you fred, thank you all for coming.