HomeNewsJustice Amy Coney Barrett says public scrutiny of SCOTUS is 'welcome'

Justice Amy Coney Barrett says public scrutiny of SCOTUS is ‘welcome’


Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett said at a judicial conference in Wisconsin that she does not mind public criticism of the court.

Speaking before the audience of judges, lawyers and legal scholars at the Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference on Monday, Barrett said she has grown “thick skin” after years in the public spotlight.

“Public scrutiny is welcome,” Barrett said. “Increasing and enhancing civics education is welcome.”

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Barrett in robes

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation in Simi Valley, California. (AP)

Reflecting on different types of scrutiny, Barrett told the audience that when scrutiny of the Supreme Court drives the public to be aware and informed of the judiciary branch and the Constitution, it benefits the country.

“To the extent that it engages people in the work of the court and paying attention to the court and knowing what the courts do and what the Constitution has to say, that’s a positive development,” she continued.

Barrett said she believes all judges — not just the Supreme Court — must accept that they are public figures by virtue of their position and accept that they will be under constant observation and discussion.

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Group picture of the members of the Supreme Court

Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Seated from left: Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. (Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

“Justices and all judges are public figures, and public criticism kind of comes with the job,” Barrett said. “But I’ve been at it for a couple of years now, and I’ve acquired a thick skin, and I think that’s what public figures have to do; I think that’s what all judges have to do.”

She also opened up about the experience of constantly being in the news cycle due to her job, saying, “You’re not waiting once a day to read your print newspaper” and “you’re seeing things come across your phone all the time.”

Barrett did, however, lament the increasing familiarity citizens have with the justices’ appearances and the difficulty of going out in public without being recognized.

Justice Kentaji Brown and Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Amy Coney Barrett, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, left, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, associate justice of the US Supreme Court, following a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photographer: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Blaming the internet for the wide-spread recognizability of justices, Barrett said she thought it was better for everyone when most people could not pick a member of the Supreme Court out from a crowd.

“People just didn’t recognize who the justices were,” Barrett said. “I think that’s better. I don’t think justices should be recognizable in that sense.”



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