Since new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in on October 26, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many people have been expecting specific actions and rulings from her. However, two months later, Coney Barrett has already made significant and surprising rulings in the Court.
In Mid-November, the Court ruled against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strict COVID-19 restrictions. The restrictions enforced no more than 10 people in “red zone” area buildings, or areas where cases are high, and no more than 25 people in “orange zone” area buildings, or areas where cases are rising. They also severely limited church gatherings and other religious services. Although the restrictions favored religious activities more than other secular activities, they made it near impossible to go to religious services.
When this case was brought to the Court, many believed that it would follow previous rulings on religious gathering restrictions in Nevada and California earlier in the year. However, they ruled against these restrictions in the name of the First Amendment. Coney Barrett was the deciding factor in this ruling, bringing the vote to 5-4 last Wednesday.
This is not the only way that Coney Barrett has impacted the Supreme Court. She may have the power to flip the Court to favor the Second Amendment in rulings. Currently, another case regarding nonviolent crimes and gun ownership is being reviewed by the Court, and Coney Barrett may be the deciding factor yet again. During the proceedings, she stated that she believes that people who have committed nonviolent crimes, such as tax fraud, should be able to own a gun. That is not a current precedent, but it could be if the Court rules in favor of the defendant. This would shift the Court to favor the Second Amendment in all gun law cases.
Many people believe that Coney Barrett is not as different from Ginsburg as they thought. They both favored reasonable gun laws, and they both had a literal vs. intended purpose mindset when it comes to the Constitution. Americans have yet to know what kind of role Coney Barrett will play in future cases, but she has already made a change in the little time that she’s been on the Court.