Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a distinguished scholar whose judicial philosophy balances a commitment to originalism with a respect for precedent. Dire predictions circulate about the consequences of adding another conservative-leaning justice to the Supreme Court, but Barrett’s record suggests that she will do credit to the institution.
Barrett has earned lavish praise from colleagues across the ideological spectrum. Now, however, with a Supreme Court seat in the balance, Barrett has become the subject of scathing — and misguided — criticism from the left. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, for example, asserts that Barrett “would not hesitate to jettison decisions with which she disagrees,” a glaring mischaracterization of the nominee’s record on adherence to precedent.
Barrett has, in fact, defended the Supreme Court’s existing presumption in favor of stare decisis — a presumption that promotes stability while affording the justices’ flexibility to depart from precedent.
Before overruling a precedent, according to Barrett, a Supreme Court justice must “think carefully about whether she is sure enough about her rationale for overruling to pay the cost of upsetting institutional investment in the prior approach. If she is not sure enough, the preference for continuity trumps.”
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images