Experts: Amy Coney Barrett again breaks with Supreme Court conservatives

 June 21, 2024

Justice Amy Coney Barrett has again made headlines with her legal decisions, causing strife within the conservative community, and a split among her coworkers.

Several of the recent high court decisions have led legal analysts to wonder if the more conservative justices could take a turn toward the moderate, as Raw Story reported.

On recent issue before the Supreme Court involved whether someone with a history of domestic violence would be allowed to keep guns. Barrett sided with the liberal justices and helped the court hand down a ruling, stripping those who were guilty of domestic abuse from owning a firearm.

Another Case

A second instance took place when multiple trademark laws were brought into question before the Supreme Court, which is currently seen as having a serious conservative tilt within its nine justices.

Barrett even went so far as to write that one of her senior-most colleagues, and an iconic conservative figure, Justice Clarence Thomas was "wrong twice over" when he said that the court had to rely on "history and tradition."

She added, "the views of preceding generations can persuade, and, in the realm of stare decisis, even bind." The Latin term is the principle that courts must adhere to previous rulings.

“But tradition is not an end in itself — and I fear that the Court uses it that way here," she continued.

The Fallout

There was a question among legal analysts as to whether or not this was a direct attack on originalism.

"It appears that Barrett is turning to question how the Supreme Court should be using history in crafting its opinion," said Josh Gerstein, a legal affairs reporter for Politico, in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday. Gerstein was speaking about the case.

"It's worth remembering that Justice Barrett obviously went along with the court in Dobbs two years ago, overturning the federal constitutional right to abortion after nearly half a century," he recalled.

The opinion was said to have had a lot of history included in it, and "relied on authorities going back to the 1600s at least, which was kind of mocked in some circles. She went along with that."

More Analysis of the Change

In terms of the extent to which she is willing to rely on history, Gerstein believes that Barrett is beginning to draw some lines.

"One really does have to wonder if that's because she's nervous about some of the implications of doing that the way Justice Thomas and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito often seek to do in other cases like the domestic violence-related gun case that you just mentioned a moment ago," he said.

Former prosecutor Joyce Vance is of the opinion that part of this change could be because of how new Barrett is to the court, pointing out that other justices have issued hundreds of opinions: "But we see her trying to set a more moderate approach."

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