7 Amy Coney Barrett Quotes That Hint At How She’d Rule As A Justice

by Lani Seelinger
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In 2017, President Trump nominated a law professor named Amy Coney Barrett for a spot on a federal appeals court, a posting which she eventually received — though not without a heated discussion in Congress. Now she's on the list for a potential Supreme Court nomination, and looking at quotes from Amy Coney Barrett will tell you exactly why she would be a controversial choice for this position as well.

According to The New York Times, Barrett is a member of a very conservative sect of Catholicism called People of Praise, and her writing shows that faith has played a significant role in how she sees the law. In 1998, she co-authored a law article arguing that Catholic judges should be able to recuse themselves from cases that would force them to act immorally, specifically in capital cases when they would have to sentence a defendant to death.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein drew criticism last year when she questioned Barrett's commitment to the law in light of her commitment to her faith, but according to the Washington Post, Barrett has indeed made many claims suggesting that she believes her faith to be more important than the law. This is of particular concern for this Supreme Court seat, as the new justice will likely soon play a deciding role in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade — or uphold it. Here are a few quotes from Barrett that show why many liberals are worried about her potential nomination.


"A Means To An End"

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A legal career is but a means to an end ... and that end is building the Kingdom of God.

Barrett said this at a talk for law students at the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett got her law degree and later taught, according to IndyStar.


Faith Above Law?

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Judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church’s standard.

This is a quote from the article that Barrett co-authored about Catholic judges participating in capital cases, in which she argued that Catholic judges should not have to participate in cases that would force them to act contrary to their religious or moral beliefs.

Many, like Sen. Feinstein, are concerned that this stance would lead Barrett to rule against Roe, as it would also go against her religious beliefs.


Law Above Faith?

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In her Senate hearing, in response to streams of questioning like Feinstein's, Newsweek reported that Barrett said that it was:

never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions, whether it derives from faith or personal conviction.

She also argued that this is why the 1998 article argued that Catholic judges should recuse themselves rather than apply any personal or religious convictions.


A Different Look At Roe

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According to an Alliance for Justice report on Barrett, she's never made any outward statements saying that Roe is illegitimate or that it should be overturned — but she has commented on it in various instances, like this one:

One of the reasons that [Roe] was controversial was that in the past all cases dealing with the right to privacy drew from consensual situations such as marriage or the use of contraception. Abortion deals with the life of a child so it differs from the earlier case[s] relating to privacy.

AFJ also noted in the same report that Barrett separately stated that she did not believe the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy. This quote also suggests that she puts the "life of a child" on a similar level as the other life in question in any case regarding abortion: the mother.


Constitution Over Precedent

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Women's right to get abortion relies on the precedent that Roe v. Wade set, because the court deciding that case felt that the Constitution guaranteed abortion access. Abortion access, however, isn't literally written into the Constitution; neither are other hard-fought rights, like gay marriage.

That's why this quote about precedent from Barrett, as quoted by the AFJ, is important:

I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it.


Roe To The States?

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Does the Court have the capacity to decide that women have the right to obtain an abortion, or should it be a matter for state legislatures? Would it be better to have this battle in the state legislatures and Congress rather than the Supreme Court?

According to Notre Dame student newspaper The Observer, Barrett said this at a talk for students at the university about Roe. Trump has also said that Roe could be left up to the states to decide, as TIME reported — which would only happen if it was overturned in the Supreme Court.


Miranda Up For Discussion

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Your Miranda rights, according to, require that, if you're arrested, police inform you of your rights as a detained person — your right to remain silent, your right to a lawyer, and so on. They protect people who may not have the civil education necessary to know these things, and who could therefore incriminate themselves under police pressure unknowingly.

Barrett, however, has spoken against Miranda, according to the AFJ:

"[T]he Miranda doctrine, which inevitably excludes from evidence even some confessions freely given, is an example” of “the court’s choice to over-enforce a constitutional norm by developing prophylactic doctrines that go beyond constitutional meaning," she said.

As AJF explained, Barrett has very little experience on the bench — her time as a judge is limited to since she was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2017. Her stances, however, make it clear that she has a very conservative reading on the Constitution — and it's likely that she would bring that with her to the Supreme Court, if Trump chooses to nominate her.