Judicial Philosophies Not Same as Political Parties, Justice Barrett Argues

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, saying she worries that the court increasingly is being portrayed to the public as a partisan institution, emphasized that justices must be "hyper-vigilant" that they don't let personal biases affect their work.

"My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks," she told guests Sunday at the University of Louisville, the Courier Journal reported. "Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties," she said, citing several cases where the Supreme Court did not rule along party lines.

"The media, along with hot takes on Twitter, report the results and decisions," Barrett said, adding that this "makes the decision seem results-oriented" and "leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision."

"And here's the thing: Sometimes, I don't like the results of my decisions," the newest Supreme Court justice continued, according to the Courier Journal. "But it's not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want."

Barrett emphasized that members of the highest court in the land should be "hyper-vigilant to make sure they're not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too," Politico reported.

Barrett's comments come at a contentious political moment in which she herself faces intense scrutiny over abortion rulings. The media and Democrats have predicted that President Donald Trump's appointment of Barrett to the high court would result in radical, right-wing like rulings.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court denied abortion providers' requests to block Texas' new law banning abortions after a baby's heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks), and the court will soon consider a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.

The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization deals with a 2018 Mississippi law challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the Mississippi Center for Justice on behalf of the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, which is called Jackson Women's Health Organization.

After the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in December 2019, the state of Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization will touch on the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 legalizing abortion across the nation, since the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether abortion bans prior to fetal viability are constitutional. This signals that the court is focused on the constitutionality of legal limits on late-term abortions.

During Barrett's confirmation hearings last fall, Democrats, media outlets, and activists fixated on her adherence to Catholic principles and her large family, suggesting that she was "extreme" and unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.

But rather than making huge splashes in her interpretation of hot-button cases, as many conservatives have called on her to do, Barrett thus far has chosen to interpret narrowly and to join with Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts over the more conservative justices.

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The newest justice joined a 7-2 majority in June rejecting a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, though her critics had warned that Barrett immediately would take aim at Obamacare.

Progressive groups, media, and activists reacted similarly when Trump chose Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, arguing that Kavanaugh was the fifth vote needed to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The emotional backlash against Kavanaugh's confirmation escalated following multiple allegations of sexual assault against the future Supreme Court justice alleging misconduct as a teen and as a college student.

Accuser Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer later would admit that putting an "asterisk" next to Kavanaugh's name before "he takes a scalpel" to Roe v. Wade was "part of what motivated Christine" to accuse him.

But liberal predictions that Kavanaugh would radicalize the court didn't come to fruition after it struck down a law that would significantly restrict abortion access: June Medical Services v. Russo, in which an abortion provider challenged a law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.

Roberts sided with the liberal justice in a 5-4 ruling that struck down the Louisiana law. The decision was met with heavy criticism from conservatives, particularly because Roberts also voted with the liberal justices on recent rulings on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and LGBT rights.

 

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