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Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, speaks at the Kirby Center on May 21, 2019.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett will be the speaker for Hillsdale College’s 168th com­mencement cer­emony, which will be held on May 9. 

Barrett, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, earned her Bachelor of Arts in English lit­er­ature from Rhodes College and her J.D. from Notre Dame Uni­versity, where she cur­rently serves on the law school faculty. Pres­ident Donald Trump appointed her to the court of appeals in November 2017. 

“We are excited that the Hon­orable Amy Coney Barrett has accepted our offer to address the class of 2020 during the college’s 168th spring com­mencement,” Provost Christopher VanOrman said in an email. “She spoke at Hillsdale College’s Wash­ington, D.C., campus in May 2019 and we are looking forward to her speech here on this campus.”

Senior Class Pres­ident Adam Buchman said that the senior class officers and college admin­is­trators are thankful that Barrett accepted the invi­tation to speak.

“We wanted somebody that we felt had a knowledge of the Con­sti­tution and could defend the things that Hillsdale stands for,” he said. “We believe that she is qual­ified to do that.”

Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter said he believes Barrett exem­plifies the ideals of Hillsdale College.

“She is truly a ‘woman for all seasons’: a devoted wife and mother of seven children — two of whom are adopted and one of whom has special needs — a law pro­fessor, circuit court judge, and prin­cipled defender of the rule of law,” Schlueter said in an email. “How does she do it? For one thing, her deep Catholic faith. For another, her husband, Jesse, a remarkable man who is himself an assistant U.S. attorney.”

Barrett has made head­lines in recent years for her strong adherence to her Catholic faith. During her con­fir­mation hearing in 2017, sen­ators chal­lenged Barrett on how her faith affected her decision-making. “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern,” said Sen. Dianne Fein­stein, D‑Calif.

Schlueter said that Barrett’s con­vic­tions have served her well in her career. 

“Like her mentor on the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Barrett com­bines deep reli­gious and moral con­viction rooted with judicial restraint,” he said. “That is a very important lesson for our time, when there are great pres­sures to politicize the judi­ciary, on the one hand, and to exclude persons with deep moral and reli­gious con­vic­tions from the court on the other.”

Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn said he believes that Barrett will be an excellent com­mencement speaker.

“I have not had the priv­ilege of meeting Judge Barrett, who has been to our campus more than once. Many here know her. They report a woman of sharp mind and high con­viction,” Arnn said in an email. “She is a leading jurist, and her opinions show depth of both knowledge and reflection. That her name has been men­tioned for the Supreme Court of the United States makes one hopeful for the direction of the court.”