Multiple media outlets laud Justice Barrett for her increasing 'independence' from Supreme Court's conservative majority

By 
 July 9, 2024

When former President Donald Trump nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in 2020, she helped secure the nominal 6-3 conservative-leaning majority on the bench.

Since that time, and particularly during the latest term, Barrett has not always consistently sided with her fellow conservatives in the majority and instead has displayed a streak of "independence" in several high-profile cases, according to the Associated Press.

That has caused a bit of consternation and regret among some court watchers on the right and even prompted predictions that she is slowly evolving into another liberal-leaning jurist -- though she likely has a ways to go yet in that regard.

Barrett displaying "glimmers of independence"

To be sure, Justice Barrett stands aligned with her conservative-leaning colleagues far more often than not over the past few years, but she has also increasingly shown a willingness to stand apart or even align herself with her liberal-leaning colleagues on major cases, including some that involve the man who appointed her to her current position.

That includes a scathing dissent in the case that involved federal obstruction charges against Jan. 6 Capitol rioters and former President Trump, and dissent-like concurrences that adopted narrower views than the majority in the cases of Trump's ballot access and presidential immunity claims.

New York University law professor Melissa Murray told the AP of Barrett, "While she is very firmly rooted in the conservative bloc, she doesn’t necessarily move in lockstep with the rest of the court’s conservatives. There are these surprising glimmers of independence."

A somewhat similar sentiment was put forward by Georgetown University law professor Steve Vladeck, who said, "We’re seeing, I think, the emergence of Justice Barrett as a principled voice in the middle of the court."

That view was tempered by Murray, however, who added, "I don’t know that it does make a big difference in the direction of the court. It’s a conservative supermajority, and she’s part of that supermajority. Most of the time she is with that supermajority, and even when she’s not, it’s at the margins."

Still predominately in the majority -- with some major exceptions

Indeed, Empirical SCOTUS observed in its statistics review for the just-concluded 2023 term that Justice Barrett was the third of all nine justices most frequently in the majority at 92%, trailing fellow conservative-leaning centrists Chief Justice John Roberts at 96% and Justice Brett Kavanaugh at 95%.

The creator of that blog, Adam Feldman, told the AP of Barrett, "She’s not always looking at it from the same perspective as her colleagues on the left or the right, and I think we’re going to see more of that uniqueness."

Nor is the AP alone in pointing out Barrett's increasing tendency to differentiate herself from the conservative-leaning majority on certain cases, as Axios similarly reported that Barrett has made her "mark" on the high court and is "establishing herself as a new intellectual center of gravity."

It was noted how she has joined her liberal colleagues on a few occasions, and on others has used concurring or dissenting opinions to seemingly call out the historical analysis or judicial philosophies of her more conservative colleagues.

Is Barrett "flipping" to the liberal side?

In response to that Axios report, conservative host and attorney Mark Levin lamented in an X post, "As I pointed out a while ago, Amy Coney Barrett is flipping. The media now owns Amy Coney Barrett. She’s the latest in a long line of formerly conservative justice nominees who is smitten with media adulation. It’ll get worse."

Not everyone shares that view, however, as The Washington Post -- in its own piece about Barrett "charting her own path" -- quoted Georgetown Law's Supreme Court Institute's executive director Irv Goldstein as saying, "Justice Barrett is everyone’s favorite conservative justice to talk about these days. But if anyone thinks she will ‘evolve’ over to the left side of the court, they are mistaken."

And, in reference to other GOP-nominated justices who shifted liberal over time, he added, "She is a conservative jurist through and through. She is not going to be the next Harry Blackmun or David Souter."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.