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Denison Forum

By Jim Denisonjim denison


“I should serve my country”: Amy Coney Barrett’s courage and our best service to our nation

The Senate Judiciary Committee has completed its hearings on President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the senators made their final remarks and heard witnesses testify about her character and qualifications. The American Bar Association, which rates federal judges, noted that it has found Judge Barrett to be “well qualified,” it’s the highest rating.

Since Republicans hold a twelve-to-ten majority, the committee is expected to approve her nomination when it votes on October 22. This would set up a vote on the Senate floor the week of October 26. Since Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, her confirmation is widely expected.

How a blank notepad made headlines

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is Catholic and obviously a woman. Both facts make her nomination noteworthy: only 22 percent of Americans are Catholic; only five of the 119 Supreme Court justices in American history have been women. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the youngest Supreme Court justice since 1991 and the first mother with school-age children to serve on our nation’s highest court.

She did not achieve her remarkable success through family connections or wealth but through hard work and a passion for excellence. This fact is worthy of reflection as evidence of our country’s founding creed that “all men are created equal.”

In my lifetime, I have seen presidents who came from families of wealth (John F. Kennedy, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump). But I have also seen presidents who came from humble beginnings (Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan). One rose to prominence through military service (Dwight Eisenhower). Two were raised by single mothers (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama).

Judge Barrett is especially known for her brilliant intellect. At one point, Texas Sen. John Cornyn stated, “You know most of us to have multiple notebooks and notes and books and things like that in front of us. Can you hold up what you’ve been referring to in answering our questions?” She held up a blank notepad that was sitting in front of her.

She knew that the confirmation process would be “really difficult,” but Barrett said she decided to accept the president’s nomination to serve: “I’m not the only person who can do this job, but I was asked, and it would be difficult for anyone. So why should I say someone else should do the difficulty? If the difficulty is the only reason to say no, I should serve my country.”

“Everybody can be great”

President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

Doing things because “they are hard” to “the best of our energies and skills” is especially urgent in these difficult days. The good news is that, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated so eloquently, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

He explained: “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agrees to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second [law] of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. You can be that servant.”

No one in American history typified this fact more than the man historians rank as our greatest president.


Jim Denison Ph.D speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. His daily column is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 208 countries. See more on the website Copyrighted and printed by permission from Denison Forum.