“There was a sense in which she was an intellectual leader,” said Nicole Garnett, professor of law at Notre Dame, who clerked that year for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Thomas B. Griffith, who was appointed as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit under the George W. Bush administration before he stepped down this month, praised her collegiality and analytical skill.
“Amy Coney Barrett is a judge’s judge, displaying the very best in our craft: elegant writing and dazzling analysis,” he said. “And because she follows the law unflinchingly, she cannot be pigeonholed. In criminal cases, for example, she is neither a civil libertarian nor a law-and-order hawk; she is a judge.”
Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive organization that opposes consideration of a Trump nominee before Inauguration Day, said Democrats should focus intensely on Judge Barrett’s public statements on Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act, which her judicial opinions suggest she may vote to overturn.
“She may have a very nice family and she may have colleagues who attest to her intellectual capabilities as a professor at Notre Dame,” Mr. Fallon said. “She has experience on the federal bench. None of those selling points distract from the fundamental problem that they are going against what a majority of the public believes.”
In addition to scrutinizing Judge Barrett’s legal writings and judicial opinions, Democrats may focus on another part of her personal narrative: her religious convictions as a member of People of Praise.
The group is one of many to emerge from the global Catholic charismatic renewal movement of the 1960s, where millions of believers expressed their spirituality in ways more common to Pentecostal traditions, like the belief in prophecy or divine physical healing. Members of People of Praise commit to supporting one another in most areas of life, from the spiritual to the emotional to the financial, and they pledge to donate 5 percent of their gross income to do so.