Amy Coney Barrett (Justice) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Amy Coney Barrett is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, known for her originalist interpretation of the Constitution.

Early Life and Education

Amy Coney Barrett was born on January 28, 1972, in New Orleans, Louisiana. After high school, she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated in 1994 and then enrolled in Notre Dame Law School. She excelled in her studies and graduated first in her class in 1997.

Starting a Legal Career

After law school, Barrett worked as a law clerk, first for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and then for Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. These experiences helped shape her conservative judicial philosophy.

After her clerkships, Barrett spent several years in private practice before returning to Notre Dame Law School as a professor in 2002. She taught constitutional law, among other subjects, for over 15 years.

Supreme Court Justice

In 2020, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court. Despite controversy over the timing of the nomination, Barrett was confirmed by the Senate and took her seat on October 27, 2020.

Judicial Philosophy and Voting Record

Barrett is known for her originalist approach to the Constitution. This means she tries to interpret it as its authors originally intended. She also follows a textualist approach to statutory interpretation, focusing on the plain words of the law rather than trying to infer lawmakers’ intentions.

Barrett has generally aligned with the conservative justices on the Court. For example, she’s voted in ways suggesting she may be open to further restrictions on abortion. However, her time on the Court has been short, and observers are still getting a sense of her judicial style.

Personal Life

Barrett is married to Jesse Barrett, a former federal prosecutor. They have seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti. A devout Catholic, Barrett’s faith plays a significant role in her life.


Amy Coney Barrett’s path from New Orleans to the Supreme Court is a story of academic achievement, legal expertise, and commitment to a specific judicial philosophy. As she continues her tenure on the Court, her decisions will contribute to shaping the interpretation of the law in the United States.

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Last Modified: 06/06/2023

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