Amy Coney Barrett on Clerking for Justice Scalia: He Was “Brilliant” and “Taught Me A Lot”

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 26, 2020   |   3:18PM   |   Washington, DC

When it comes to the proper way to read, analyze and apply the Constitution to modern law, few Supreme Court justices have mastered the skill like Justice Antonin Scalia, which is why the legal mastermind remains an institution in conservative circles years after his passing.

Scalia was one of the minority of judges on the nation’s highest court who was pro-life and supported overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett clerked for Justice Scalia and, in an interview with the Daily Signal, described her time serving the lion of the SCOUS:

Bates: And then you went on to clerk at the Supreme Court for Justice [Antonin] Scalia. So can you tell us a little about your time in his chambers?

Barrett: Yes. So, that is trial by fire. You get thrown in and it’s an overwhelming amount of work. You’re feeling your way at first. Justice Scalia participated in the cert pool, so you start in the summer and you’re thrown into writing memos that you know will be circulated.

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At the time, eight of the nine justices were in the cert pool. So it’s a little stressful when you realize you’re writing things that eight Supreme Court justices are going to be reading.

And then when the merits cases started in October, those are the hardest cases. They’re there because they’re hard enough that they’ve divided lower courts, so those were very challenging.

And the way Justice Scalia ran his chambers is we all had to be prepared to discuss all the cases. So we would have a conference before argument where the four of us would be in his office. And then you’re just going toe-to-toe. Everybody’s saying what they think.

Justice Scalia, obviously, very quick witted, brilliant, and he didn’t want you to agree with him. He wanted you to say what you thought. And so disagreeing with him as I sometimes did and pushing back and going back and forth with someone like Justice Scalia really taught me a lot.

It taught me a lot about oral advocacy and being articulate and who better to learn how to write under than someone who was as great a writer as he was. So it was a great year.

Scalia frequently talked about his views on abortion and the high court case that allowed for unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.

“You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it,” he said in an interview previously with California Lawyer.

Hopefully much of Scalia’s rapport rubbed off on Barrett since Scalia properly understood there is no right to abortion.