‘Far More Security’: Justice Amy Coney Barrett Reveals Most Dramatic Part of Her Transition to SCOTUS
Justice Amy Coney Barrett said Thursday night that the most dramatic part of her transition to the Supreme Court was adjusting to having a constant security detail.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Judge Lisa Branch interviewed Barrett during The Federalist Society’s Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner, where she talked about her transition from being a Notre Dame law professor to serving on the Seventh Circuit, the switch to the Supreme Court and parenting her seven kids through the changes. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito were among the dinner’s 2,500 attendees, which included lawyers and some other federal judges.
“The shift to the Supreme Court could not have been more dramatic,” Barrett told Branch. “… I’d say one of the things that struck us about that is just the difference of having security detail with you all the time.”
Barrett said she had not anticipated so much security because Justice Scalia, who she clerked for during the 1998 term, “didn’t have it.”
“When he did speaking engagements or when he traveled, he would have the U.S. marshals with him,” she said. “But I didn’t realize that at some point after Justice Scalia’s death the court had switched to having this detail, so that justices had far more security.”
The constant presence of security sometimes makes her feel “confined,” Barrett said. She recounted visiting her parents shortly after her confirmation and feeling free when her dad handed her the keys to his SUV, which she took out for a drive with the windows down and music blaring “like a teenager.”
“I might have been going above the speed limit,” she said, laughing.
After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was leaked by Politico in May 2022, security was increased and extended to the justices’ families. Protestors marched and shouted outside of her home, along with the homes of the other conservative justices, on and off for months following the leak.
Barrett shared some of the “funny” parenting moments that have come up with her younger four children since joining the Court, which she said she doesn’t “quite know how to handle,” such her teenage daughter expressing embarrassment about being picked up by an armored vehicle and teaching her son to drive with the detail trailing behind him.
“If I were he, I might feel a little self conscious,” she said. “But he leans over and says, ‘Can I try to lose them?’”
Overall, Barrett said her kids have “adjusted very well” to the changes, though she doesn’t think they’re “that impressed” with her job.
“They’re way more impressed that I can roller skate and ice skate backwards,” she joked.
She mentioned that she has finished the manuscript for her upcoming book, which aims to describe the law and the business of the court to non-lawyers. She also addressed her relationships with colleagues on the court, saying that “the heat stays on the page.”
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