Close friend of Amy Coney Barrett talks to 16 News Now

There is a lot of information out there about Amy Coney Barrett’s professional life as a lawyer and judge. But Judge Barrett is also a wife, mother and friend.
Published: Sep. 26, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - There is a lot of information out there about Amy Coney Barrett’s professional life as a lawyer and judge. But Judge Barrett is also a wife, mother and friend. 16 News Now’s Terry McFadden spoke with one of Amy Coney Barrett’s closest friends.

Amy Coney Barrett graduated from Notre Dame’s law school back in 1997, and returned to South Bend in 2002 to teach there. In that time, she has made many friends. Terry sat down with Kristen White, who is a neighbor and close friend of Judge Barrett.

There is a lot of information out there about Amy Coney Barrett’s professional life as a lawyer and judge. But Judge Barrett is also a wife, mother and friend.

Terry: Kristen, talk about your emotions knowing that Amy Barrett appears to be destined to be a justice on the U.S Supreme Court? White: Well, the first word that comes to mind is proud but it’s sort of weird to be proud of your peer. But as a friend and neighbor and knowing her for quite a while, she’s perfect for the position. She’s incredibly professional. She’s incredibly intelligent, and I’m very proud of her. I know it’s a big adjustment and it’s something to consider. I know she spent a long time, well, at least since the last time her name was in the national news, discerning this potential.

Terry: How long have you been friends?

White: Amy and I have known each other since we moved here fifteen years ago.

Terry: I understand you have a lot in common in terms of age, family, interests and such?

White: Yeah, Amy and I our birthdays are, ironically, just a month apart so she’s a month older than I am and we each have seven children. We were pregnant with our youngest at the same time and, you know, we’ve just traveled a lot of the avenues and journey of motherhood together; neighbors and friends and she’s somebody I’ve leaned on for support and guidance and good counsel over the years, and she’s a really fun person to laugh with.

Terry: I understand that you have kept in touch with Amy Barrett, not only through this latest Supreme Court journey, but the initial one, texting almost every day?

White: Sure, I want her to know that she’s in my prayers, if the kids need somewhere to come play out of the limelight, they’re welcome to play over here. You know, if they need some kind of grocery run or support I’m there. But mostly I want her to know that she has my emotional and spiritual support and that I’m thinking of her.

Terry: In the return text, do you get the sense she appreciates you have an open ear?

White: For sure. It’s very personal. my daughter used to babysit for them and so I shared with her, you know, my daughter didn’t want to burden you by a lot of texts during this extremely busy time but there was a message she had for you and Amy wrote back immediately and had some little anecdotes to add, so very personal texts back and I know she appreciates it. You know I feel like I’m such a close friend because she answers my text every day, but I think there’s about a hundred other people in town that feel that same thing because that’s just who she is. She’s just warm. She’s loving. She’s caring. She’s genuine. I think Amy is one of the gentlest people I know and that’s something I’ve always really admired. Maybe it’s my Italian background but I’m not always a gentle spirit, and when I watch Amy interact with her kids or her husband or friends, she’s fun-loving but she just has a gentle way about her.

Terry: I understand you recently went through a very difficult time in your life and among the people front and center was Amy Barrett?

White: That’s a hundred, thousand percent true. She was somebody I sought out from the very beginning because I knew I could trust her counsel. I knew that in my situation I wanted to behave as a good Catholic, wanted to be faithful to my spirituality and my faith and my church. I wanted to be a good mother to my children through everything and I just wanted to be a good person and come out on the other side shining. So Amy, in particular, was somebody I sought out for that. And her counsel was, of course, wise and very trustworthy and it ended up setting me on a path. And I will never be able to repay her for that support. She showed up here one day with a little gift for myself and my daughters, and we opened it up and it was a little bracelet for each of us with a saying just to kind of support us through our time. She’s there through thick and thin and finds little ways through her words, through her prayers, through her gestures to make sure she is visible in your life.

Terry: what are you pulling out here?

White: The last time Amy was in the national limelight I purchased this mug just as a reminder of how proud I am of her for standing up for what she believes in and for serving the country as well as she does.

Terry: What would you want people to know about Amy Barrett that they may not know?

White: I want people to know how real Amy is, Amy is not the type of person who meets a life challenge. I mean she has two adopted children and a child with special needs and, you know, I’ve watched her be a real human through those with real struggles and real things we would all wonder. You know, it’s a lot to learn how to adopt a child well and assimilate them into your own family, and how to get the best care for and love best a child with special needs. I’m always amazed when I watch Amy do her personal research on those topics and educate herself so she can be the best she can be, and that’s real, that’s what real people do. She doesn’t have real people doing that for her. She’s just a mom who takes her children on a walk in the evening or carries a potluck over to the neighbor’s house. She’s just a real human we can all relate to. And her kindness is just something I don’t think is necessarily reflected in the way the national media is portraying her. But she is, she’s the great mom next door that everybody wants be friends with.

If the nomination does indeed pass the Senate, White says she will miss not seeing her friend as often, but hopes “Justice” Barrett will feel free to text her anytime life in Washington gets a little crazy.

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