Barrett sports scanty record on First Amendment issues

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has taken part in a small number of cases involving the First Amendment making it difficult to tell how she would rule once on the Court. She has not faced press rights issues such as reporter’s privilege. She did join a ruling that Chicago’s bubble-zone ordinance restricting certain speech near abortion clinics was constitutional. She also agreed that coronavirus restrictions did not infringe on rights to gather in public. As an originalist, it is not known if she would side with Justice Clarence Thomas that fidelity to original meaning would necessitate overturning Times v. Sullivan. (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, October 9, 2020, by Grayson Clary)

It was widely noted in the press that during senate hearings on her nomination when she was asked to name the five freedoms from the First Amendment, Barrett did not immediately recall the right to petition for a redress of grievances. Barrett also refused to comment on Times v. Sullivan or Thomas’ position and dodged taking a position on Branzburg V. Hayes concerning reporter’s privilege to protect sources. (The Washington Post, October 15, 2020, by James Hohmann with Mariana Alfaro)

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