A Justice and a Mother

The picture book biography I am looking at today is Amy Coney Barrett: A Justice and a Mother, by Joyce Claiborne-West, illustrated by Ivana Besevic.

I’ve been curious about Barrett. This book goes over her many strong points: a sharp mind, loving mother of seven, a good listener.

It starts with her childhood in New Orleans as the oldest of seven, driving her younger siblings around in her 1977 Buick LeSabre.

A Mother

Then it fast-forwards quickly past law school at Notre Dame and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Amy, a law professor at Notre Dame, and her husband Jesse began building their family. They start the process of adoption for an orphan from Haiti soon after their own first child is born.  Vivian comes to join their family.

But they’ve also fallen in love with John Peter, another child who can’t come too because of red tape. Finally, after a disastrous earthquake in Haiti, the government releases John Peter to join them. Amy balances her life as a law professor with her job as a mother–she gets up early for the law job and spends time with the kids later in the day.

A Supreme Court Justice

She’s surprised when she gets a call from the President, who wants to nominate her for the Supreme Court. Like her mentor Scalia, she is an originalist, says the author, who defines that as a belief that our laws should follow the Constitution precisely as its authors had intended. The book contains a thumbnail sketch of constitutional law for kids, based on the originalist idea.

Major publishers of children’s literature are putting out picture book biographies of liberal Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Now I am glad to see some balance: equal time for a conservative. The book comes from a new small publisher, Heroes of Liberty, from New York, NY.


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@Barrie Summy
Short Story by Phyllis Wheeler

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