WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), one of the first female Republicans to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, today gave an opening statement on the first day of the committee hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to be the next Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.

Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:

“Judge Barrett, thank you so much for being in front of us today. Welcome to you and, of course, I am so glad you have had your family join you today as well.  

“Only 100 years ago, women in this country were given the right to vote. And today, we consider adding another woman to the highest Court in the land. I can’t help but be so proud of all that every one of our women have accomplished in this great nation. 

“This is the first time I’ve been a member of the Judiciary Committee during a Supreme Court nomination process. 

“And as you probably know, like most Americans, I’m not a lawyer. I bring a slightly different perspective.

“But one thing is very important to me, and it’s something that matters to Iowans…whether they are lawyers or not. I firmly believe in the role of our Supreme Court. It is the defender of our Constitution. 

“At the end of the day, that’s my test for a Supreme Court justice. Will you defend the Constitution?

“It frustrates me and it frustrates my fellow Iowans that the Supreme Court has become a “Super legislature” for a Congress that frankly won’t come together, discuss these tough issues, and do its job.

“What I hear about my colleagues on the left is about judicial activism and what they want to see in their nominees. Which is that super legislature.

“They are projecting that upon you, Judge Barrett. That’s what they are projecting as they are talking about what cases may or may not come in front of the Supreme Court.

“As a matter of fact, I think it was just the other day that Vice President Joe Biden told the American people they don’t deserve to know if he is going to pack the court. They don’t deserve to know who his judicial nominees would be. I think we do need to know. Again, because it what the Left is projecting on you today is what they want to see in their nominees.

“But that’s not what our founder’s intended the Court to be.

“I hope that this hearing will be an open, fair conversation about how Judge Barrett would act as Justice Barrett. 

“I am concerned, however, that not everyone involved in this hearing shares that goal.  We’ve already seen hints of that over the past few weeks … immediately attacking your faith and your precious family.

“Instead of entering into this nomination process with an open mind and a desire to understand this woman who has been nominated for the highest court in the land, the focus is on a plan…or a strategy, a series of tactics to undermine, coerce and confuse the American people. 

“A plan, Judge Barrett, to undermine you as a person, undermine your family, and undermine what you hold dear.

“Women all over the world are painfully familiar with this strategy. We are all too often perceived and judged based on who someone else needs, or wants, us to be, not on who we actually are. 

“I cannot speak for those that would attempt to undermine your nomination. But as a fellow woman, a fellow mom, a fellow Midwesterner, I see you for who you are, and I’m glad the American people have the opportunity to get to know Amy Coney Barrett. 

“This week will be an opportunity to dig into your background further and understand more about your judicial philosophy. 

“But what your political opponents want to paint you as is a TV, or cartoon version of a religious radical. A so-called “handmaid” that feeds into all of the ridiculous stereotypes they have set out to lambast people of faith in America. 

“And that’s wrong. 

“It might be less comical if this was the first time the left has trotted out this partisan playbook. Your political opponents have made these types of religious attacks on nearly every Supreme Court candidate nominated by a Republican president in the modern era. 

“And every time, like clockwork, they say they really mean it this time, this nominee, this woman in front of us, she is the absolute worst.

“I’m struck by the irony of how demeaning to women their accusations really are. That you a working mother of 7, with a strong record of professional and academic accomplishment, couldn’t possibly respect the goals and desires of today’s women. 

“That you, as a practicing Catholic, with a detailed record of service, lack compassion. I know you to be compassionate. Your record on the 7th Circuit says that you are – and more importantly it shows your demonstrated commitment to defending the Constitution.

“The great freedom of being an American woman is that we can decide how to build our lives. 

“Whom to marry, what kind of person we are, and where we want to go. I served in the Army – something not exactly popular at various points in America’s history.  We don’t have to fit the narrow definition of womanhood. We create our own path.

“Justice Ginsburg was one such woman, and I would like to pay tribute to her for what she did to pave the way for women of today.

“It’s really quite simple what your opponents are doing: they are attacking you – as a mom and a woman of faith – because they cannot attack your qualifications.

“Every year, I travel to every single one of Iowa’s 99 counties and talk to men and women from all walks of life. 

“Whether they are farmers, or nurses, or small business owners, they want a government that is accountable to them. 

“When Congress makes a law that oversteps the Constitution, the ripples can be felt – whether it’s on farms in Montgomery County where I’m from – and the manufacturing facilities of Dubuque. It can be felt in the church services of Sioux City and the community meetings of Waterloo.

“The Supreme Court’s only job is to rule on the cases before it and defend the Constitution. To do that well, a justice needs to be thoughtful, restrained, and wise. 

“Judge Barrett, so far, I have seen all of those things in you. I am so glad that we have you in front of us. I look forward to learning more about you. I want to thank you – and your family – for being in this nomination and for being here today.

“And certainty, this folks, is what a mom can do.”

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