Who is Amy Coney Barrett? What to know about the Supreme Court justice

The nomination of Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was one of the final major actions President Donald Trump took in the closing months of his tenure before losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.

Senate Republicans hurried through her confirmation in less than a month before the election. Trump announced Barrett's nomination at a White House Rose Garden ceremony that spurred a COVID-19 outbreak within the Trump administration.

Barrett was the first nominee in nearly three decades to change the ideological balance on the court, giving conservatives a 6-3 advantage. A former federal appeals court judge and law professor at Notre Dame University, she has frequently voted with the court's conservative wing but has also shown an independent streak in some cases.

She was the fifth woman ever nominated to the high court.

Barrett replaced Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the iconic progressive who died in 2020 after serving 27 years on the court.

Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court in October 2020.
Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court in October 2020.

Here’s what to know about Amy Coney Barrett.

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Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

Barrett is an associate justice on the Supreme Court. She is the 115th justice to serve on the court.

How old is Amy Coney Barret?

Amy Coney Barrett was born on Jan. 28, 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is 50 years old.

Is Amy Coney Barrett the youngest justice on the Supreme Court?

Yes, she is the youngest justice serving on the court. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is four years older, is the second youngest.

Where is Amy Coney Barrett from?

Barrett grew up in a New Orleans suburb called Old Metairie. When she was a judge on the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Barrett lived in South Bend, Ind.

How long has Amy Coney Barrett been a justice?

Barrett has been a justice since October 2020, when she was confirmed by the Senate. She is in her second year on the court.

Which president appointed Amy Coney Barrett?

Trump nominated Barrett in September 2020.

Who did Amy Coney Barrett replace?

Barrett replaced Ginsburg following her death. Ginsburg was among the most prominent voices on the court's liberal wing and had become a pop culture icon for championing women's rights during her career as a lawyer and a judge.  

Senate Republicans rushed to confirm Barrett before the 2020 presidential election, even after they refused to consider President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016. At that time, the GOP argued against confirming a Supreme Court pick during an election year.

Where did Amy Coney Barrett go to school?

Barrett earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 1994.

She got her law degree in 1997 from Notre Dame Law School, where she served as the editor of the law review.

She returned to Notre Dame as a professor in 2002, teaching law full-time until 2017 when Trump nominated her to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit , which covers Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The Senate confirmed her for the appeals court 55-43,with three Democrats joining Republicans to support her.

What are Amy Coney Barrett’s views?

Barrett belongs to the Supreme Court’s conservative wing. She clerked for the late and outspoken conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who she has called a mentor. Barrett has previously held membership in the Federalist Society, a prominent legal group with ties to many judges and justices in the conservative legal movement.

Barrett subscribes to an originalist view of the Constitution. She believes that the Constitution should be interpreted to reflect how the framers would have thought about the words put down in the founding document. 

This is in contrast to a view liberal justices often take, which is that the Constitution is a “living document” whose meaning evolves over time to best suit the conditions of the country in modern times.

How has Amy Coney Barrett voted?

Barrett has mostly voted with the court's other conservatives. In her first term, Barrett agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh more than any of her other colleagues, according to the Harvard Law Review.

She has occasionally broken ranks with her conservative brethren. In a high-profile death penalty case last year, Barrett joined with the court's liberal wing and sided with a death row inmate in Alabama who sued to have a pastor at his execution.

What is one of Amy Coney Barrett’s most significant opinions?

Because she is relatively new on the court, Barrett has not yet authored many majority opinions. Barrett authored her first major opinion in the 2021 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club case. The Sierra Club sought to obtain records from the federal agency. In her 7-2 opinion, Barrett ruled that the records the Sierra Club sought were exempt from public records laws because they were part of the agency’s internal deliberative process.

Does Amy Coney Barrett have a family?

Yes. Barrett married her husband Jesse Barrett in 1999. They have seven kids together, including two who they adopted.

What is Amy Coney Barrett’s salary?

Barrett will be paid the $274,200 salary for associate Supreme Court justices this year.

Is Amy Coney Barrett Catholic?

Yes, Barrett is Catholic. She grew up attending Catholic schools and described herself as a “faithful Catholic” during a 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for her nomination to the circuit court, adding that her faith would have no bearing on her work as a judge. She taught law students as a professor at Notre Dame University.

What are Amy Coney Barrett’s views on abortion?

Barrett hasn’t explicitly said how she will rule in a major case challenging the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Years before she was confirmed to 7th Circuit, while still a Notre Dame law professor, Barrett signed a two-page advertisement in the South Bend Tribune describing Roe's legacy as "barbaric."

During her Supreme Court confirmation, Barrett said she didn't "have any agenda" to overturn Roe and said she would follow the "rules of stare decisis," the Latin term for the notion of precedent. Pressed about the ad during her hearing, Barrett said she hadn't remembered it until it surfaced in a newspaper story.

What is People of Praise and how does it involve Amy Coney Barrett?

When Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court, several stories focused on her early ties to a little-known Christian community called the People of Praise. The group, which has about 1,700 members throughout the United States and Canada, is made up of Catholics and members of several Christian denominations who practice their faith together in tight communities. Democrats questioned the group's opposition to abortion and belief that men are ordained as the head of the family.

Barrett grew up in a devoted People of Praise family in Louisiana, according to the New York Times.

But Barrett has maintained that a judge’s personal and religious beliefs should have no influence on their decisions.

Who is ACB?

ACB are Barrett's initials. It's a shorter way of referring to the justice.

Contributing: John Fritze

Who are the Supreme Court justices?

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is Amy Coney Barrett? What to know about the Supreme Court justice