supreme court

Justice Barrett Gets $2 Million Deal to Tell Readers What They Don’t Want to Hear

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has a cushy book deal. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

This news from the publishing industry via Politico is pretty interesting:

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s last pick for the Supreme Court, has … sold a book — garnering a $2 million advance for a tome about how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule, according to three publishing industry sources. The figure was “an eye-raising amount” for a Supreme Court justice and likely the most since book deals won by Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O’Connor, one of the people added.

You have to figure most of the people who will put down legal tender for a Barrett book are fans of her, of Donald Trump, and the cultural conservatism they believe she will eventually bring to the Court once she has settled in. Indeed, the reason her nomination was greeted with so many huzzahs from the Right is because it was assumed her “personal feelings” as an observant Catholic and as a professor at a Catholic university would be brought to bear on abortion jurisprudence, making her potentially that fifth critical vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. As Senator Elizabeth Warren observed in the Cut when Barrett was first nominated, Barrett’s “personal feelings” — amplified by the fact that, as a woman, she couldn’t be accused of not understanding how women regard reproductive issues — were precisely why Trump nominated her:

[O]ver, and over, and over again, President Trump has bragged about his plans to appoint judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe …

Barrett is Trump’s ideal candidate to accomplish his plans. In 2006, she signed a newspaper ad calling for the end of Roe and describing the decision as “barbaric.” She was a member of an anti-choice group while on the University of Notre Dame faculty. She’s also been critical of the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court’s past decision to uphold the law in court. Her position on abortion and other reproductive rights are clear: She believes women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.

Now it’s entirely possible that Barrett will use her book as an opportunity to articulate constitutional principles that justify the counter-revolution she is supposed to help consummate, principles which are undoubtably entirely separate from her “personal feelings” that legalized abortion is barbaric. But it’s likely that most of her readers would really prefer a good solid emotional commitment to the anti-abortion cause — and also don’t want to be told the long-awaited return to the pre-Roe status quo might depend on the right kind of case or some incremental steps.

Yes, a book claiming objectivity on abortion (if that is indeed what Barrett produces) would just be a continuation of the dishonesty of Supreme Court nominees — from every point of view — acting as though they haven’t really thought much about the most heavily discussed and controversial cases in the history of constitutional law. Once confirmed, most of them fall silent until they actually rule on the relevant cases. Maybe Barrett’s book deal is in fact a big advance on a tome she will write after she has helped overturn Roe — in which case, she could publish a book of recipes or something about her stamp collection and grateful anti-abortion activists would snap it up. And at that point no one would much care whether her “personal feelings” had anything to do with the chore Trump placed her on the Court to perform as part of his transactional relationship with the Christian Right.

Barrett Book Will Tell Readers What They Don’t Want to Hear