LAKE GENEVA, Wis. – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett told attendees at a judicial conference in Wisconsin on Monday that she welcomed public scrutiny of the court. However, she appeared to express a sense of regret about the increased visibility of justices, stating that she believes justices should not be easily recognizable.
Despite her openness to public critique, Barrett refrained from offering her stance on potential operational changes to address the court’s recent controversies. She also sidestepped the issue of whether the justices should adopt an official code of conduct, an idea that has gained traction in the wake of heightened public interest.
During the conference, Barrett engaged in a Q&A session with Diane Sykes, the chief judge of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court. As noted by NBC News, the event took place against the backdrop of a decline in public trust in the court, attributed to contentious rulings, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade and federal abortion protections.
Barrett lamented that the modern proliferation of information, accessible through smartphones and constant connectivity, has led to heightened scrutiny of the Supreme Court. She reminisced about an earlier time when the internet wasn’t prevalent, and justices went unrecognized by the public. Barrett expressed a preference for anonymity for justices.
“You’re not waiting once a day to read your print newspaper. You’re seeing things come across your phone all the time, and you’re seeing pictures of people,” she said.
Barrett recalled that before the birth of the internet when she was a law clerk, people routinely visited the Supreme Court and asked justices on the court to take their pictures or for directions because they did not know who they were.
“People just didn’t recognize who the justices were,” Barrett said. “I think that’s better. I don’t think justices should be recognizable in that sense.”
Barrett shared both positive and negative aspects of the court’s increased media exposure. She admitted to being relatively new to her role and having developed a “thicker skin” over the past couple of years.