Letters to the Editor: Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘textualism’ is less extreme than liberals make it out to be

President Trump is shown with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26.
President Trump is shown with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, has written decisions and scholarly articles dealing with “textualism,” but in her op-ed article law professor Victoria Nourse does not critique any specific writing by Barrett.

Instead, Nourse repeatedly cites and quotes the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Nourse generally misreads the expressed ideas of Barrett and Scalia on “textualism,” thinking that it is a substitute for statutory interpretation.

Scalia and Barrett have said that “interpretation” must be used only if the statute language is unclear, and the scrutiny begins with the text but it does not end there. They discard the method of picking through legislative history in an attempt to discover some basis to justify a liberal interpretation of the law, regardless of the text.


They assert that the text of the statute must first be scrutinized if it is asserted that the law is unclear, to see whether there’s a way to implement it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Larry Lacombe, Los Angeles


To the editor: The United States, which has been a fervent critic of the injustices in some Islamist countries caused by their adherence to a literal reading and strict textual understanding of the Koran, seems now under the threat of turning the Supreme Court into an institution dominated by constitutional absolutes.

Barrett’s judicial record clearly indicates her textual approach to the Constitution as an instrument that should be interpreted according to the meaning that is “clear” upon the face of its text, and in accordance with arguments that align with the America of the 18th century.

But much has changed since the days of the founding fathers, and any interpretive methods of the Constitution must take into consideration the modern world.

We should be aware that even textual literalism is not immune to the influence of personal bias in understanding the text, no matter how objective the assertions appear to be.

Berta Graciano-Buchman, Beverly Hills


To the editor: My concern is not with any of Nourse’s arguments, but with the interchangeable use of Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. In two separate paragraphs it’s Obamacare, and in another two it’s the Affordable Care Act.

This happens often. Make up your mind.

It reminds me of a post on Facebook I saw in which a person does not like Obamacare, but don’t touch the Affordable Care Act.

Nanilee Root, Mentone