During his questioning at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) asked Judge Amy Coney Barrett whether she had seen the now-famous video of George Floyd’s violent arrest and what impact it had on her. Here was her remarkable response:
Senator, as you might imagine, given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family. Jesse was with the boys on a camping trip out in South Dakota, so I was there, and my 17-year-old daughter Vivian, who was adopted from Haiti, all of this was erupting. It was very difficult for her. We wept together in my room. It was also difficult for Juliet, who is ten. I had to try to explain some of this to them.
My children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence. And for Vivian, to understand that there would be a risk to her brother or the sons she might have one day, of that kind of brutality, has been an ongoing conversation. It’s a difficult one for us, like it is for Americans all over the country.
Durbin followed up by asking Barrett her view, as an originalist, of where our country is today on the issue of race and how she feels about the idea of systemic racism.
“I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given as we just talked about the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country,” Barrett replied, before declining to give a broader statement of her views about diagnosing the specific problems or policies at stake.
Barrett’s reply to Durbin on this point was a great example of why she’s difficult for Democratic opponents of her nomination to caricature or villainize. In every interaction we’ve seen from her so far, she comes across as a normal human being, and a highly intelligent and deeply compassionate one at that.