July 10, 2024

Well, Is She a Conservative, or Isn’t She?

Amy Coney Barrett is finding newfound respect from Leftmedia outlets for her voting record being slightly more moderate than predicted.

As ridiculous as the Leftmedia is, this read of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is just wishcasting. Axios, NBC News, and others have opined that Barrett is not an extreme right-winger in her voting habits, particularly after this year’s round of judicial decisions.

This year, more than others, has indeed seen ACB in agreement with the leftist justices on various cases. According to The Washington Times, “She agreed with the three Democratic appointees slightly less than 70% of the time.” Barrett sided with the Democrat positions on Big Tech/free speech and the DOJ’s methods in prosecuting January 6 rioters and protesters, as well as joining them against the Second Amendment in United States v. Rahimi. The latter one, in particular, caused fellow conservatives to question if she was, in fact, an originalist.

The Times also points out that in her concurrences and dissents, ACB agreed most often with Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, stating: “She agreed with Chief Justice Roberts 88% of the time and with Justice Kavanaugh 89% of the time.” This has caused alarm in the Republican ranks as well, given those justices’ squishiness. (Roberts, you’ll recall, unilaterally rewrote ObamaCare to save it.) Neither Roberts nor Kavanaugh are on the same level as ironclad originalists Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Political pundit Mark Levin warned: “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.”

Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, told The Washington Times that he never thought Barrett was conservative to begin with but that “I think her mode is one of judicial restraint.” He added, “I think she approaches cases with caution and hesitancy, and she will scrutinize standing, she will scrutinize all the facts, she will hold the lawyers to a very high burden. She is so afraid of getting something wrong that she won’t be an originalist.”

But let’s be honest: Leftists don’t disagree that Barrett is predominately a conservative originalist. In fact, they were theatrically wailing and putting on “Handmaid’s Tale” outfits in protest during her nomination hearing. Ergo, this “newfound respect” demonstrated by some Leftmedia outlets is overblowing Barrett’s decisions. Elizabeth Wydra, president of the left-wing Constitutional Accountability Center, told NBC News: “[Barrett] is very clearly on the conservative side of the court. The fact the tone she strikes may come across as more moderate is a reflection of how conservative the court has become.”

“How conservative the court has become” is laughable, of course, but to her point, ACB isn’t a turncoat. But she also isn’t a stalwart.

Ultimately, as columnist Josh Hammer suggests, it’s time for conservatives to be more careful about their judicial nominees and appoint more solid picks. Donald Trump’s picks — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — all have some worrying tendencies that have steered them more toward the political center. They are periodic fence-sitters who can be pushed to the left or to the right. Arguably, Gorsuch is the most reliable of them (except for his disastrous Bostock decision).

The other eerie factor that needs to be pointed out is that this series of more positive ACB-related pieces has appeared after the steady stream of attacks leveled at Thomas and Alito. The media’s accusation of Barrett being a moderate is an interesting take. Is this backhanded compliment another leftist ploy to delegitimize the Court? Only time will tell.

As it is, Barrett’s biggest condemnation by both sides is that she is cautious and careful. There are worse indictments out there.

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