Is Amy Coney Barrett the Supreme Court's new swing justice?

Still conservative, but independent

Photo composite of Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the steps of the Supreme Court
Amy Coney Barrett is demonstrating a degree of independence, according to legal observers.
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

Amy Coney Barrett ascended to the Supreme Court in 2020 on a wave of conservative enthusiasm. And sure enough, she was part of a court majority that overturned Roe v. Wade. But these days "she is beginning to separate herself from the pack in important ways," said Axios. Among the signs of Barrett's independence: Her positions on Donald Trump's court cases "were significantly less favorable" to the former president than other GOP appointees. (She still joined the majority that granted some legal immunity to Donald Trump in his Jan. 6 case, though.)

During the court's most recent term she wrote concurring opinions "questioning and honing the majority's methods" while occasionally joining liberal justices in "notable dissents" against the court's rulings involving Jan. 6 and the federal government's air pollution policies, said The New York Times. That's prompting a reevaluation of Barrett after just three full terms on the court. "Has Amy Coney Barrett gone rogue?" asked Newsweek. Not necessarily, said one legal observer. But she is demonstrating a degree of independence. "She is demonstrating that she isn't beholden to anyone."

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.