Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett said at a judicial conference in Wisconsin that she does not mind public criticism of the court.
Speaking before the audience of judges, lawyers and legal scholars at the Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference on Monday, Barrett said she has grown “thick skin” after years in the public spotlight.
“Public scrutiny is welcome,” Barrett said. “Increasing and enhancing civics education is welcome.”
Reflecting on different types of scrutiny, Barrett told the audience that when scrutiny of the Supreme Court drives the public to be aware and informed of the judiciary branch and the Constitution, it benefits the country.
“To the extent that it engages people in the work of the court and paying attention to the court and knowing what the courts do and what the Constitution has to say, that’s a positive development,” she continued.
Barrett said she believes all judges — not just the Supreme Court — must accept that they are public figures by virtue of their position and accept that they will be under constant observation and discussion.
“Justices and all judges are public figures, and public criticism kind of comes with the job,” Barrett said. “But I’ve been at it for a couple of years now, and I’ve acquired a thick skin, and I think that’s what public figures have to do; I think that’s what all judges have to do.”
She also opened up about the experience of constantly being in the news cycle due to her job, saying, “You’re not waiting once a day to read your print newspaper” and “you’re seeing things come across your phone all the time.”
Barrett did, however, lament the increasing familiarity citizens have with the justices’ appearances and the difficulty of going out in public without being recognized.
Blaming the internet for the wide-spread recognizability of justices, Barrett said she thought it was better for everyone when most people could not pick a member of the Supreme Court out from a crowd.
“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.”
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