President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court has expressed unease with some landmark rulings, including ones that established a right to abortion, and has suggested in her academic writing that she may be willing to reconsider those decisions.
The question of whether Amy Coney Barrett, a one-time clerk to former conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, would actually try to overturn Roe v. Wade, the high court’s 1973 ruling recognizing a woman’s right to an abortion, and other long-established precedents looms large as she heads into Senate confirmation hearings next week.
A review of Barrett’s writings and speeches as a Notre Dame law professor for the 15 years before she became a federal appeals court judge in 2017 reveal a nuanced thinker cautious about stating her personal views. She has never said publicly she would overturn Roe, or other precedents expanding abortion rights.
But she has clearly left the door open to that possibility.
“Our legal culture does not, and never has, treated the reversal of precedent as out-of-bounds,” she said in a 2013 Texas Law Review article. She also describes the high-court tradition of heeding previous rulings, or precedent, as a “soft rule” and not “an inexorable command.”