In relatively rare public comments over the weekend, conservative Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett sounded the alarm over what she feels is an inaccurate – though growing – perception among the public that she and her colleagues on the bench are motivated not by measured principles of jurisprudence, but by political ideology, as the Washington Times reports.
Delivering remarks at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Barrett asserted her belief that she and her colleagues at the high court must always “remain hyper vigilant” to ensure that they are not “letting their personal biases creep into their decisions,” noting that “judges are people, too.”
Delving further into the issues plaguing public perception of the court, Barrett expressed disappointment about the tendency of mainstream journalists to depict Supreme Court rulings primarily as the product of partisan influence, rather than of the deliberative processes she knows are followed in each and every matter before the justices, noting, “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”
The Supreme Court’s newest sitting justice noted that so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of the bench is marred by the aforementioned lens and implored more court watchers, pundits, and journalists to realize that “to say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner.”
Making the point in a surprisingly direct fashion, Barrett told her audience, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, “My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” adding, “Sometimes I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”
Justice Barrett has not been alone among her SCOTUS colleagues in publicly admonishing those who would suggest that the court is – or ought to be – a vehicle for partisan political ends, as Justice Stephen Breyer of the panel’s liberal wing appeared on Fox News Sunday the same weekend to issue words of caution to progressive who wish to re-shape the court and load it with radicals.
Himself the target of far-left advocacy groups urging him to retire while President Joe Biden is still in a position to nominate his successor, Breyer warned against the sort of court-packing proposals that have garnered significant support from the left in recent yeares.
Making his position plain earlier this year, Breyer’s take on the court’s over-arching role revealed itself to be strikingly similar to Barrett’s, with the octogenarian jurist opining, “It is wrong to think of the Court as another political institution…and it is doubly wrong to think of its members as junior league politicians.”
Aside from his more fundamental argument about the high court’s ability to rise above politics to make decisions based sound deliberative mechanisms, liberal activists seeking to re-configure the court in their own image would be well-advised to heed Breyer’s other, more practical, words of warning, namely, “What goes around comes around. And if the Democrats can do it, the Republicans can do it.”