But we don’t have to guess at Barrett’s jurisprudence either. She has a long paper trail of academic and judicial writings, which display a thoughtful and scholarly approach to both legal substance and the prudential aspects of judging. On legal theory she’s very much like her own mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, in her originalism and textualism, applying constitutional and statutory provisions according to their public meaning at enactment instead of seeing that meaning change over time or trying to divine a legislative purpose. When it comes to the doctrine of stare decisis, the idea that sometimes erroneous precedents should be left untouched because correcting them would cost more in societal disruption than getting them right would benefit, she’s somewhere between Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas — who rarely if ever lets legal dogs lie.
Barrett has also shown a willingness to hold government officials’ feet to the constitutional fire, although one law review article suggests that she’s not willing to go as far as, say, Justice Neil Gorsuch in questioning the justifications for economic regulations. But regardless, if Barrett is confirmed, John Roberts’ short stint as the median justice will end, and we can expect a Supreme Court jurisprudence that, like it or not, will be more principled.