Trump nominated Barrett to the Seventh Circuit, and the Senate confirmed her on October 31, 2017. Before and while serving on the federal bench, she has been a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, where she has taught civil procedure, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation.
Amy Vivian Coney was born in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Linda (née Vath) and Michael Coney. She is the eldest of seven children and has five sisters and a brother. Her father worked as an attorney for Shell Oil Company, and her mother was a high school French teacher and homemaker. Barrett has Irish and French ancestry. Her great-great-great-grandparents on her mother's side were from Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, Ireland, while there is also Irish blood among her father's ancestors. Her great-great-grandparents emigrated from France to New Orleans. Her family is devoutly Catholic, and her father is an ordaineddeacon at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Metairie, Louisiana, where she grew up.
At Notre Dame, Barrett received the "Distinguished Professor of the Year" award three times. From 2011 to 2016, she spoke on constitutional law at Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a summer program for law school students that the Alliance Defending Freedom established to inspire a "distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law". While serving on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett commuted between Chicago and South Bend, continuing to teach courses on statutory interpretation and constitutional theory.
Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 6, 2017
On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after Judge John Daniel Tinder took senior status. A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination was held on September 6, 2017. During the hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Barrett about a law review article Barrett co-wrote in 1998 with Professor John H. Garvey in which they argued that Catholic judges should in some cases recuse themselves from death penalty cases due to their moral objections to the death penalty. Asked to "elaborate on the statements and discuss how you view the issue of faith versus fulfilling the responsibility as a judge today," Barrett said that she had participated in many death-penalty appeals while serving as law clerk to Scalia, adding, "My personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge" and "It is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law." Barrett emphasized that the article was written in her third year in law school and that she was "very much the junior partner in our collaboration." Worried that Barrett would not uphold Roe v. Wade given her Catholic beliefs, Feinstein followed Barrett's response by saying, "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern."
Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights organization, co-signed a letter with 26 other gay rights organizations opposing Barrett's nomination. The letter expressed doubts about her ability to separate faith from her rulings on LGBT matters. During her Senate hearing, Barrett was questioned about landmark LGBTQ legal precedents such as Obergefell v. Hodges, United States v. Windsor, and Lawrence v. Texas. She said these cases are "binding precedents" that she intended to "faithfully follow if confirmed" to the appeals court, as required by law. The letter Lambda Legal co-signed read, "Simply repeating that she would be bound by Supreme Court precedent does not illuminate—indeed, it obfuscates—how Professor Barrett would interpret and apply precedent when faced with the sorts of dilemmas that, in her view, 'put Catholic judges in a bind.'"
Barrett's nomination was supported by every law clerk she had worked with and all of her 49 faculty colleagues at Notre Dame Law school. 450 former students signed a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting her nomination.
On October 5, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11–9 on party lines to recommend Barrett and report her nomination to the full Senate. On October 30, the Senate invoked cloture by a vote of 54–42. It confirmed her by a vote of 55–43 on October 31, with three Democrats—Joe Donnelly, Tim Kaine, and Joe Manchin—voting for her. She received her commission two days later. Barrett is the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit.
In June 2019, the court, in a unanimous decision written by Barrett, reinstated a suit brought by a male Purdue University student (John Doe) who had been found guilty of sexual assault by Purdue University, which resulted in a one-year suspension, loss of his Navy ROTC scholarship, and expulsion from the ROTC affecting his ability to pursue his chosen career in the Navy. Doe alleged the school's Advisory Committee on Equity discriminated against him on the basis of his sex and violated his rights to due process by not interviewing the alleged victim, not allowing him to present evidence in his defense, including an erroneous statement that he confessed to some of the alleged assault, and appearing to believe the victim instead of the accused without hearing from either party or having even read the investigation report. The court found that Doe had adequately alleged that the university deprived him of his occupational liberty without due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and had violated his Title IX rights "by imposing a punishment infected by sex bias", and remanded to the District Court for further proceedings.
In 2017, the Seventh Circuit rejected the federal government's appeal in a civil lawsuit against AutoZone; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued that AutoZone's assignment of employees to different stores based on race (e.g., "sending African American employees to stores in heavily African American neighborhoods") violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Following this, Barrett joined the court as it received a petition for rehearing en banc. Three judges—Chief Judge Diane Wood and judges Ilana Rovner and David Hamilton—voted to grant rehearing, and criticized the three-judge panel's opinion as upholding a "separate-but-equal arrangement". Barrett did not join the panel opinion, but voted with four judges to deny the petition to rehear the case. The petition was unsuccessful by a 5–3 decision.
In 2019, Barrett wrote the unanimous three-judge panel opinion affirming summary judgment in the case of Smith v. Illinois Department of Transportation. Smith was a Black employee who claimed racial discrimination upon his dismissal by the department and that he was called a "stupid-ass nigger" by a Black supervisor; the department claimed Smith failed work-level expectations during probationary periods. Barrett wrote that usage of the racial slur was egregious, but Smith's testimony showed no evidence that his subjective experience of the workplace changed because of the slur, nor did it change the department's fact that his discharge was related to "poor performance".
In June 2020, Barrett wrote a 40-page dissent when the majority upheld a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration's controversial "public charge rule", which heightened the standard for obtaining a green card. In her dissent, she argued that any noncitizens who disenrolled from government benefits because of the rule did so due to confusion about the rule itself rather than from its application, writing that the vast majority of the people subject to the rule are not eligible for government benefits in the first place. On the merits, Barrett departed from her colleagues Wood and Rovner, who held that DHS's interpretation of that provision was unreasonable under Chevron Step Two. Barrett would have held that the new rule fell within the broad scope of discretion granted to the Executive by Congress through the Immigration and Nationality Act. The public charge issue is the subject of a circuit split.
In May 2019, the court rejected a Yemeni citizen and her U.S. citizen husband's challenge to a consular officer's decision to twice deny her visa application under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The U.S. citizen argued that this had deprived him of a constitutional right to live in the United States with his spouse. In a 2–1 majority opinion authored by Barrett, the court held that the plaintiff's claim was properly dismissed under the doctrine of consular nonreviewability. Barrett declined to address whether the husband had been denied a constitutional right (or whether the constitutional right to live in the United States with his spouse existed at all) because the consular officer's decision to deny the visa application was facially legitimate and bona fide, and under Supreme Court precedent, in such a case courts will not "look behind the exercise of that discretion". The dispute concerned what it takes to satisfy this standard. A petition for rehearing en banc was denied, with Chief Judge Wood, joined by Rovner and Hamilton, dissenting. Barrett wrote a rare opinion concurring in the denial of rehearing en banc (joined by Judge Joel Flaum).
Barrett has never ruled directly on abortion, but she did vote to rehear a successful challenge to Indiana's parental notification law in 2019. In 2018, she voted against striking down another Indiana law requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains. In both cases, Barrett voted with the minority. The Supreme Court later reinstated the fetal remains law, and in July 2020 it ordered a rehearing in the parental notification case.
In February 2019, Barrett joined a unanimous panel decision upholding a Chicago "bubble ordinance" that prohibits approaching within a certain distance of an abortion clinic or its patrons without consent. Citing the Supreme Court's buffer zone decision in Hill v. Colorado, the court rejected the plaintiffs' challenge to the ordinance on First Amendment grounds.
In March 2019, Barrett dissented when the court upheld the federal law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms. The majority rejected the as-applied challenge raised by plaintiff Rickey Kanter, who had been convicted of felony mail fraud, and upheld the felony dispossession statute as "substantially related to an important government interest in preventing gun violence." In her dissent, Barrett argued that while the government has a legitimate interest in denying gun possession to felons convicted of violent crimes, there is no evidence that denying guns to nonviolent felons promotes this interest, and that the law violates the Second Amendment. President Trump pardoned Kanter in December 2020.
In May 2018, Barrett dissented when the panel majority found that an accused murderer's right to counsel was violated when the state trial judge directly questioned the accused while forbidding his attorney from speaking. Following rehearing en banc, a majority of the circuit's judges agreed with her position.
In August 2018, Barrett wrote for a unanimous panel when it determined that the police had lacked probable cause to search a vehicle based solely upon an anonymous tip that people were "playing with guns", because no crime had been alleged. Barrett distinguished Navarette v. California and wrote, "the police were right to respond to the anonymous call by coming to the parking lot to determine what was happening. But determining what was happening and immediately seizing people upon arrival are two different things, and the latter was premature...Watson's case presents a close call. But this one falls on the wrong side of the Fourth Amendment."
In February 2019, Barrett wrote for a unanimous panel when it found that police officers had been unreasonable to assume "that a woman who answers the door in a bathrobe has authority to consent to a search of a male suspect's residence." Therefore, the district court should have granted the defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in the residence as the fruit of an unconstitutional search.
In January 2019, Barrett wrote for a unanimous panel when it denied qualified immunity to a civil lawsuit sought by a defendant who as a homicide detective had knowingly provided false and misleading information in the probable causeaffidavit that was used to obtain an arrest warrant for the plaintiff. (The charges were later dropped and the plaintiff was released.) The court found the defendant's lies and omissions violated "clearly established law" and the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights and thus the detective was not shielded by qualified immunity.
In Howard v. Koeller (7th Cir. 2018), in an unsigned order by a three-judge panel that included Barrett, the court found that qualified immunity did not protect a prison officer who had labeled a prisoner a "snitch" and thereby exposed him to risk from his fellow inmates.
In Orchard Hill Building Co. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 893 F.3d 1017 (7th Cir. 2018), Barrett joined a unanimous panel decision, written by Judge Amy J. St. Eve, in a case brought by a property developer challenging the Corps' determination that a wetland 11 mi (18 km) from the nearest navigable river was among the "waters of the United States." The court found that the Corps had not provided substantial evidence of a significant nexus to navigable‐in‐fact waters under Justice Kennedy's concurrence in the Supreme Court's decision in Rapanos v. United States. The case was remanded to the Corps to reconsider whether such a significant nexus exists between the wetlands in question and navigable waters for it to maintain jurisdiction over the land.
In June 2018, Barrett wrote for the unanimous panel when it found that a plaintiff could not sue Teva Pharmaceuticals for alleged defects in her IUD due to the lack of supportive expert testimony, writing, "the issue of causation in her case is not obvious."
In August 2020, Barrett wrote for the unanimous panel when it held that a Teamsterslocal did not have standing to appeal an order in the Shakman case because it was not formally a party to the case. The union had not intervened in the action, but rather merely submitted a memorandum in the district court opposing a motion, which the Seventh Circuit determined was insufficient to give the union a right to appeal.
President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court on September 26, 2020
Barrett was on Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees since 2017, almost immediately after her court of appeals confirmation. In July 2018, after Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement announcement, she was reportedly one of three finalists Trump considered, along with Kavanaugh and Judge Raymond Kethledge.
In October, the American Bar Association rated Barrett "well qualified" for the Supreme Court opening, its highest rating. The ABA confined its evaluation to the qualities of "integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament". Barrett's nomination came during a White House COVID-19 outbreak. On October 5, Senator Lindsey Graham formally scheduled the confirmation hearing, which began on October 12 as planned and lasted four days. On October 22, the Judiciary Committee reported her confirmation favorably by a 12–0 vote, with all 10 Democrats boycotting the committee meeting. On October 25, the Senate voted mostly along party lines to end debate on the confirmation. On October 26, the Senate confirmed Barrett to the Supreme Court by a vote of 52–48. Every Republican senator except Susan Collins voted to confirm her, whereas every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus voted in opposition. Barrett is the first justice since 1870 to be confirmed without a single vote from the Senate minority party.
The nature of her appointment was criticized by numerous Democratic politicians; Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called it "the most illegitimate process I have ever witnessed in the Senate." Republicans responded that they were merely exercising their constitutional rights, and that accusations of hypocrisy were nothing more than "an unwarranted tantrum from the left".
U.S. Supreme Court (2020–present)
Justice Clarence Thomas administers the oath of office to Barrett on October 26, 2020 at the White House alongside President Donald Trump
Chief Justice John Roberts administers the judicial oath to Barrett on October 27, 2020. Justice Barrett's husband, Jesse M. Barrett, holds the Bible.
Barrett uses her maiden and married surnames in public. She has chosen to be called "Justice Barrett" in written orders and opinions of the court, as she did as a Seventh Circuit judge.
In November 2020, Barrett was assigned to the Seventh Circuit. This assignment's duties include responding to emergency applications to the Court that arise from the circuit's jurisdiction, either by herself or else by referring them to the full Court for review.
On November 26, 2020, Barrett joined the Supreme Court's majority in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ____ (2020), in an unsigned 5–4 preliminary injunction in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, saying that certain COVID restrictions instituted by New York GovernorAndrew Cuomo had likely violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, in that they "single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment." The Court said that the restrictions had likely impinged on the fundamental right of the free exercise of religion without their (in constitutional legal parlance) passing the legal test of "strict scrutiny." Cuomo's order was more restrictive than governmental orders involved in similar cases involving churches in California and Nevada that the Court had allowed to stand by a 5–4 vote. In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts saw no reason for the Court to intervene before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the matter, inasmuch as New York State had already substituted revised rules "at least as favorable as the relief they currently seek". Ross Guberman, author of Point Taken: How to Write Like the World’s Best Judges, told the Times he believed Barrett was the principal author of the Court's decision because of its measured tone and word choices, including its use of the word "show". In dissent, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Kagan, argued that, according to the Court's Employment Division v. Smith precedent, the case did not warrant application of "strict scrutiny". She wrote, "Justices of this court play a deadly game in second-guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.[...] States may not discriminate against religious institutions, even when faced with a crisis as deadly as this one. But those principles are not at stake today."
Barrett delivered her first concurring opinion on February 5, 2021, in the case South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom. She authored her first majority opinion in United States Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, which was decided on March 4, 2021. Traditionally the first opinion delivered by a new justice reflects the opinion of a unanimous court, but that's not always the case. While Gorsuch and Kavanaugh wrote unanimous first opinions, Barrett, like her predecessor Justice Ginsburg, wrote the opinion for a divided court.
Judicial philosophy, academic writings, speeches, and political views
Many of Barrett's academic writings are about a professed imperative that jurists limit their work to determining the meanings of constitutional and statutory texts, reconciling these meanings with Supreme Court precedent, and using such precedent to mediate among various jurisprudential philosophies.
According to an analysis by University of Virginia law professors Joshua Fischman and Kevin Cope, Barrett was the rightmost Seventh Circuit judge, though not statistically distinguishable from six other Republican-appointed judges on the court. Compared to the other Seventh Circuit judges, she was more conservative on civil rights issues and less conservative on cases involving employment discrimination, labor and criminal defendants. According to a review by Reuters, Barrett's Seventh Circuit rulings showed that she mostly sided with police and prison guards when they were accused of excessive force. Due to the judicial doctrine of qualified immunity, police-officer defendants in many of these cases were shielded from civil liability because their actions were deemed not in violation of clearly established law. Jay Schweikert, who advocates for the Court's or Congress's elimination of qualified immunity, believes that her "decisions all look like reasonable applications of existing precedent." Legal commentatorJacob Sullum argues that while Barrett was on the U.S. appellate court she took "a constrained view of the doctrine's scope."
Textualism and originalism
Barrett is considered a textualist, a proponent of the idea that statutes should be interpreted literally, without considering their legislative history or underlying purpose, and an originalist (of the original-public-meaning, rather than original-intent, variety), a proponent of the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted as perceived at the time of enactment. According to her, "Originalism is characterized by a commitment to two core principles. First, the meaning of the constitutional text is fixed at the time of its ratification. Second, the historical meaning of the text 'has legal significance and is authoritative in most circumstances.'" For the purpose of "describing the disagreement between originalists and nonoriginalists about the authoritativeness of the original public meaning," she refers to a section of a law review article by Keith E. Whittington, "Originalism: A Critical Introduction", that reads, "Critics of originalism have suggested a range of considerations that might trump original meaning if the two were to come into conflict. From this perspective, fidelity to original meaning is not the chief goal of constitutional theory. ...Confronted with suitably unpleasant results, the nonoriginalist might posit that the original meaning should be sacrificed. Alternatively, we might think that contemporary public opinion should trump original meaning. ...Underlying all these considerations is a view that courts are authorized to impose constitutional rules other than those adopted by the constitutional drafters. ...the originalist must insist that judges not close their eyes to the discoverable meaning of the Constitution and announce some other constitutional rule to supersede it. It is at that point that the originalist and the nonoriginalist must part ways."
Textualism, Barrett says, requires that judges construe statutory language consistent with its "ordinary meaning": "The law is comprised of words—and textualists emphasize that words mean what they say, not what a judge thinks that they ought to say." According to Barrett, "Textualism stands in contrast to purposivism, a method of statutory interpretation that was dominant through much of the 20th century." If a court concludes that statutory language appears to be in tension with a statute's overarching goal, "purposivists argue that a judge should go with the goal rather than the text". For Barrett, textualism is not literalism, nor is it about rigid dictionary definitions. "It is about identifying the plain communicative content of the words".
Barrett clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, and has spoken and written of her admiration of his adherence to the text of statutes and to originalism, writing: "His judicial philosophy is mine, too. A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they may hold." In one article she quoted Scalia on the importance of the original meaning of the Constitution: "The validity of government depends upon the consent of the governed ... [s]o what the people agreed to when they adopted the Constitution ... is what ought to govern us." In a 2017 article in the law review Constitutional Commentary, reviewing a book by Randy E. Barnett, Barrett wrote: "The Constitution's original public meaning is important not because adhering to it limits judicial discretion, but because it is the law. ...The Constitution's meaning is fixed until lawfully changed; thus, the court must stick with the original public meaning of the text even if it rules out the preference of a current majority."
According to Barrett, textualists believe that when a court interprets the words of statutes, it should use the most natural meaning of those words to an ordinary skilled user of words at the time, even if the court believes that the legislature intended that the words be understood in a different sense. If the legislature wishes the words of a statute to carry a meaning different from how a non-legislator would understand them, it is free to define the terms in the statute. As Scalia put it, "[A]ll we can know is that [the legislature] voted for a text that they presumably thought would be read the same way any reasonable English speaker would read it." Scalia insisted that "it is simply incompatible with democratic government, or indeed, even with fair government, to have the meaning of a law determined by what the lawgiver meant, rather than by what the lawmaker promulgated."
Barrett has been critical of legal process theory, which gives a more expansive role to theory in shaping the interpretation of law than do textualism and originalism. She said that one example of the "process-based" approach can be found in King v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court, for reasons related to the unorthodox legislative process that produced the Affordable Care Act, interpreted the phrase "Exchange established by the State" to mean "Exchange established by the State or the federal government."
Suspension of habeas corpus
In a journal article, "Suspension and Delegation", Barrett noted that constitutionally only Congress has the authority to decide the terms under which habeas corpus may be legitimately suspended. In all but one of the previous suspensions of habeas corpus, Barrett thought that Congress violated the Constitution "by enacting a suspension statute before an invasion or rebellion occurred—and in some instances, before one was even on the horizon." In an educational essay, she sided with the dissenters in Boumediene v. Bush after considering historical factors.
At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett said she would follow Supreme Court precedent while on the appellate bench. In 2020, during her nomination acceptance speech at the White House Rose Garden, Barrett said, "Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold"; she also said judges "must apply the law as written". She explained her view of precedent in response to questions at the hearing.
In a 2013 article in Texas Law Review on the doctrine of stare decisis, Barrett listed seven cases that she believed should be considered "superprecedents"—cases the court would never consider overturning. They included Brown v. Board of Education and Mapp v. Ohio (incorporating the Fourth Amendment onto the states), but specifically excluded Roe v. Wade (1973). In explaining why it was excluded, Barrett referenced scholarship agreeing that in order to qualify as "superprecedent", a decision must have widespread support from not only jurists but politicians and the public at large to the extent of becoming immune to reversal or challenge (for example, the constitutionality of paper money). She argued that the people must trust a ruling's validity to such an extent that the matter has been taken "off of the court's agenda", with lower courts no longer taking challenges to them seriously. Barrett pointed to Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) as evidence that Roe had not attained this status, and quoted Richard H. Fallon Jr.: "[A] decision as fiercely and enduringly contested as Roe v. Wade has acquired no immunity from serious judicial reconsideration, even if arguments for overruling it ought not succeed."
Concerning the relationship of textualism to precedent, Barrett said, "It makes sense that one committed to a textualist theory would more often find precedent in conflict with her interpretation of the Constitution than would one who takes a more flexible, all-things-considered approach." She referenced a study by Michael Gerhardt which found that, as of 1994, no two justices in that century had called for overruling more precedents than justices Scalia and Hugo Black, both of whom were textualists, even though Black was a liberal and Scalia a conservative. Gerhardt also found that during the Rehnquist court's last 11 years, the average number of times a justice called for the overruling of precedent was higher for textualist justices, with one per year coming from Ginsburg (non-textualist) up to just over two per year from Thomas (textualist). Gerhardt wrote that not all the calls for overruling were related to textualism issues, and that one must be careful in the inferences one draws from the numbers, which "do not indicate either why or on what basis the justices urged overruling."
Affordable Care Act
In 2012, Barrett signed a letter criticizing the Obama administration's approach to providing employees of religious institutions with birth control coverage without having the religious institutions pay for it.
Barrett has been critical of the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (2012), which upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. She wrote in 2017: "Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did—as a penalty—he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress's commerce power."
Barrett opposes abortion. In 2006, she signed an advertisement placed by St. Joseph County Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, in a South Bend, Indiana newspaper. The ad read: "We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death. Please continue to pray to end abortion." An unsigned, second page of the advertisement read, "It's time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children." In 2013, Barrett signed another ad against Roe v. Wade that appeared in Notre Dame's student newspaper and described the decision as having "killed 55 million unborn children". The same year, she spoke at two anti-abortion events at the university.
Barrett and her family with President Trump on September 26, 2020
Then-Judge Barrett with her husband, Jesse, in 2018
^Simon, Abigail (July 3, 2018). "These Are Trump's Candidates for the Supreme Court". Time. Archived from the original on July 6, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018. Coney Barrett has written extensively about Constitutional originalism, a legal tradition that advocates for an interpretation of the Constitution based on the meaning it would have had at the time it was written.