Barrett’s ‘Brilliance Matched Only By Her Compassion,’ Says First Blind SCOTUS Clerk and Former Student

October 16, 2020 Updated: October 16, 2020

In an evocative testimony on Thursday, Laura Wolk—a former law-student of Judge Amy Coney Barrett—told the Senate Judiciary Committee of how then-Professor Barrett helped her on her journey to becoming the first blind clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Speaking as one of eight witness during the final day of Supreme Court nominee Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Wolk testified to the compassion and humanity shown by the Trump nominee throughout the early stages of her life.

Wolk, who also spent a year as a law clerk for Barrett, told senators that when she was Barrett’s student, the judge helped her procure assistive technology for class at Notre Dame Law School.

She recalled that the arrangements she had made before she began her studies had fallen through, and she was left “struggling to keep up in class.” After several weeks, she shared her worries with Barrett.

“This is no longer your problem. It’s my problem,” Wolk recounted Barrett telling her after she relayed her technology problem to the professor. “This encounter was the first in which Judge Barrett demonstrated the depth of her generous spirit, but it was far from the last.

“I can’t capture adequately the relief that washed over me at her words.”

Wolk said the technological assistance she required for her studies “arrived promptly” after their discussion.

“Her brilliance is matched only by her compassion, and her integrity is unassailable,” Wolk continued.

“The very best aspect of that story is that it is hardly unique. Those who have had the benefit of knowing Amy Coney Barrett understand that she possesses a boundless font of energy and a radical sense of love that she is ever ready to pour out upon those lucky enough to call her teacher, boss, family, and friend.

“Any one who has interacted with her knows that she is a woman of her word,” Wolk added. “She means what she says, and she says what she means.

“She has given me a gift of immeasurable value, the ability to live an abundant life with the potential to break down barriers.”

Barrett was nominated to the court vacancy by President Donald Trump last month upon the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The American Bar Association (ACA), a lawyer group that rates judicial nominees, on Sunday gave Barrett its highest rating of “well qualified” after reviewing Barrett.

A substantial majority of the ACA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary made the determination, according to committee chair Randall Noel. A minority determined that the 48-year-old is “qualified.”

The Senate committee vote to approve Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court has been scheduled for 1 p.m. on Oct. 22. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that the full Senate will begin considering Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 23 “and stay on it until we finish this.”

“We have the votes,” he said on Thursday.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.