Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a jurist of unparalleled talent and a person of remarkable character. We would know — we spent a year right down the hall from her. As her law clerks, we witnessed the qualities that make her an excellent judge and mentor, the same qualities that will make her a distinguished Supreme Court Justice.
Judge Barrett’s impact on the law began decades before she became a judge in 2017 — first as a standout student at Notre Dame Law School, then as law clerk for Judge Silberman on the D.C. Circuit and Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court, and finally at Notre Dame Law School, where she taught and mentored students, winning the “Distinguished Professor of the Year” award three times.
Despite her towering intellect, Judge Barrett always took our views seriously. As an academic, she had spent over a decade exploring the intricacies of statutory interpretation and constitutional law. By the time she joined the bench, she hadn’t just studied the various legal theories and normative arguments that underpin legal questions; she had helped shape them. And yet she engaged us with uncommon humility.
We would often look up from our desks to see Judge Barrett leaning in the doorway, ready to discuss a case. Sometimes she would spend hours sitting across from us, discussing the merits of the litigants’ various arguments. And perhaps most importantly, she created a culture in chambers where everyone was encouraged to voice their opinions, even if we thought she would ultimately disagree. She saw the value in discourse, and she encouraged us to do the same as lawyers.
But Judge Barrett’s impact on our lives runs far deeper than legal teaching and legal discourse. She showed us how to be courageous yet compassionate.
She has the rare gift of lifting everyone around her. Even on the greyest, snowiest South Bend winter mornings, Judge Barrett would greet us with her trademark smile.
Despite her busy schedule, her door was always open. She took it upon herself to mentor us — always willing to give us advice if we wanted it, be it professional or personal. And she taught us the value of hard work. Even the early-rising clerks often arrived at Judge Barrett’s chambers to find the light already on in her office.
If we were feeling unwell, she wouldn’t just give us the day off; she would offer some thoughtful gestures, like bringing in a baked treat, that made chambers feel a lot more like a family than anything else. We know that we will probably never have another boss more committed to mentoring us. Perhaps she spoiled us. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
To put it simply: clerking for Judge Barrett and being able to call her a mentor is an honor, especially as women. The two of us come from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. And we don’t see eye-to-eye on every policy or political issue. But we had the same experience with Judge Barrett: we were treated with dignity and respect.
Judge Barrett elevated our thinking, writing and character, not by prescription, but simply by being herself. As a Supreme Court Justice, she would be a cherished role model for generations to come.
Amanda Rauh-Bieri served as a law clerk for Judge Barrett from 2017-2018. Pardis Gheibi served as a law clerk for Judge Barrett from 2019-2020.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amy Coney Barrett: Beloved boss who will be Supreme Court role model