Around this time last year, conservatives were singing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's praises as many surmised that she would be another pawn on former President Donald Trump's political board.
When she spoke at the White House Rose Garden last year, her high regard for religion and esteemed level of respect for Justice Antonin Scalia made things appear as if the Republican Party finally had enough conservative-leaning justices to do their bidding.
However, a new op-ed sheds light on why Barrett remains a mystery for many Republicans. According to New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon, Barrett has taken a relatively tactical approach to work on the bench; an approach that appears to be relatively opposite of former President Donald Trump's first justice nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
"Justice Barrett has been low-key on the bench, too. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump's first nominee, was far more aggressive out of the gate, correcting Chief Justice John Roberts at one of his first oral arguments and writing sweeping opinions that brim with self-certainty. Justice Barrett has written a total of eight opinions (the fewest among the justices last term). Her tone in writing and when she asks questions at arguments tends to be forthright but diplomatic.
"We don't know the full measure of Amy Coney Barrett yet," said New York University law professor Melissa Murray of Barrett.
Bazelon also referenced instances where Barrett's true legal strategy have been evident. "The best evidence for Justice Barrett's cautious strategy on the court is a brief opinion she wrote last June in a major case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia," Brazelon wrote. "In 2018 a Catholic social services agency sued the city for not renewing its contract to place foster children. The government claimed the agency had violated its rules against discrimination by refusing to place kids with same-sex couples."
Unfortunately for conservatives, Barrett's legal strategy leaves a margin of uncertainty; a level of unpredictability Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may not have bargained for in his pursuit to stack the courts with archconservative justices. This coming week's legal arguments may offer more insight on where she really stands.
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