We publish the objective news, period. If you want the facts, then sign up below and join our movement for objective news:


Latest News

Conservative Justice Barrett Exhibits Unexpected Independence

 July 6, 2024

Justice Amy Coney Barrett has surprised legal analysts with rulings that sometimes diverge from the court's most conservative members, showing a more moderate stance on various issues. Her recent rulings, including those on January 6th defendants and presidential immunity, highlight her independent judicial philosophy.

In 2020, Amy Coney Barrett sat for her confirmation hearing against a backdrop of liberal activists dressed as characters from "The Handmaid's Tale" and faced criticism from the Senate Democratic leader concerning her "far-right views." Now in her fourth term on the Supreme Court, Barrett has shown a surprising degree of independence, sometimes breaking away from the court's most conservative voices.

Justice Barrett has recently diverged from other Republican appointees in decisions concerning the government's prosecution of January 6 defendants and the granting of immunity to presidents. Despite her tendencies towards conservative rulings, she often writes her own opinions, sometimes disagreeing vehemently with conservative justices such as Clarence Thomas.

Barrett's Initial Conservative Leanings

Initially, Barrett exhibited strong conservative leanings, including joining the majority in the 2022 opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade. However, according to Supreme Court scholar Adam Feldman, Barrett "probably falls somewhere in the middle of the court" and has shown more moderate positions recently.

In a notable instance, Barrett led two Democratic appointees in dissenting in the Fischer v. United States case. She supported the Justice Department's attempt to use an Enron-era document-shredding law against January 6 protesters. This decision marked a significant moment where she broke from her conservative counterparts.

Barrett signed onto a case which granted former President Trump some immunity but criticized the GOP majority for overreaching. Her concurring opinion emphasized that the Constitution does not protect presidents from criminal liability for official acts, highlighting her cautious and scrutinizing approach to cases.

An Independent Approach to Gun Rights

In the United States v. Rahimi case, Barrett concurred with limiting gun rights for individuals under a domestic violence protection order, diverging from Justice Thomas. Her concurring opinion questioned the prevailing theory of originalism, implying a stricter standard for historical context, which sparked varied interpretations from legal scholars.

Eugene Volokh viewed Barrett’s opinion as reaffirming her commitment to originalism, while Elliot Mincberg noted that Barrett, while conservative, displayed a degree of independence from her colleagues. Barrett’s judicial philosophy often involves high scrutiny of facts and legal standing, reflecting a cautious approach to rulings.

Appointed to the Supreme Court by President Trump in fall 2020 after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett faced strong opposition from Democrats. Her career includes service on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a tenure as a law professor, and clerking for Justice Scalia.

Collaborative Yet Independent Voting Records

Despite showing independence, Barrett’s voting records reveal collaboration as well. She agreed most frequently with Chief Justice Roberts (88%) and Justice Kavanaugh (89%), and aligned slightly less with the three Democratic appointees, at just under 70%. Her voting patterns reflect a balance between collaboration and independence.

Josh Blackman, assessing Barrett’s judicial style, said “I think her mode is one of judicial restraint. She approaches cases with caution and hesitancy, scrutinizes standing, and holds lawyers to a high burden.”

Feldman observed, “It’s not exactly the same justice who was so clearly in the majority in Dobbs. We are seeing a little bit of distance between her and Thomas and Alito.” This evolving stance has made Barrett a unique presence in the court, often marked by her distinct approach to legal interpretations.

Barrett herself stated during confirmation hearings, "If I were confirmed, you’d be getting Justice Barrett, not Justice Scalia," emphasizing her individuality from the beginning. Despite criticisms from various quarters, Barrett has made her judicial philosophy known through her unique decisions.

Mixed Reactions From Legal Scholars

The reactions from legal scholars highlight Barrett's complex judicial approach. Elliot Mincberg noted, “She clearly is extremely conservative but does see certain areas where some members of the court go too far. How that plays out in future cases depends on what those cases are.”

Justice Barrett’s emerging role demonstrates a judiciary that balances restraint with insightful interpretation, challenging expectations set during her confirmation. Her rulings continue to shape her legacy as a justice known for independence and caution.


Justice Amy Coney Barrett's judicial journey has been marked by her balance of conservative principles with instances of moderate and independent rulings. From her contested confirmation hearing to her divergence on key rulings, Barrett's judicial philosophy reflects a nuanced and thoughtful approach to the law. Her ability to navigate complex legal landscapes while asserting her independence underscores her evolving role on the Supreme Court.

Specifications for further reading:

  • Considerations on past and future significant rulings
  • Analysis of her judicial philosophy and its implications for future Supreme Court decisions