The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Desperately Smearing Amy Coney Barrett

If you're looking for an accurate (let alone fair-minded) assessment of judicial records, Slate's not the place for you.


Slate has started a new series, "Trump Bench," in which Mark Joseph Stern profiles the records of prominent Trump judicial nominees. In his latest installment for this series, Stern examines the "appalling record" of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and it's a mess. To be clear, the mess is not Barrett's record, but Stern's treatment of it. Stern's account is misleading and inaccuarate, and not remotely fair-minded.

I was going to detail some of the many problems with Stern's piece, but Ed Whelan beat me to it. In two posts, here and here, Whelan catalogs the numerous instances in which Stern omits relevant context, mischaracterizes cases, and seeks to unjustly smear Barrett at every turn. Taken as a whole, the critique is fairly devastating.

If Stern responds to Whelan's critique, I'll post a link, but based upon my familiarity with several of the cases under discussion, and Barrett's record more broadly, I doubt there's much of a defense to make.

In the meantime, for those who want a fairer picture of Judge Barrett, I'd suggest going straight to the source, reading her opinions and law review articles, and perhaps watching this lecture that she gave at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law last year.