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2 appointing judges who would “automati-

cally” overturn Roe v Wade—she would threaten abortion rights. Ms Barrett had a ready answer. She would have “no opportunity to be a ‘no’ vote on Roe”. As a circuitcourt judge, she said, “I would faithfully apply all Supreme Court precedent.” The same constraint does not bind Supreme Court justices. And in several lawreview articles, Ms Barrett has argued for a more flexible conception of stare decisis, the principle that justices should ordinarily respect the court’s previous decisions. There may be a “very strong presumption” that precedents should stand, she wrote in 2003, but when “a prior decision clearly misinterprets the statutory or constitutional provision it purports to interpret”, judges “should overrule the precedent.” Stare night Couple that declaration with Ms Barrett’s favourable—even fawning—view of Mr Scalia’s jurisprudence, and there is little reason to believe she would vote to uphold Roe and Planned Parenthood v Casey, a 1992 decision re-affirming abortion rights. In an article in 2017 in the Notre Dame Law Review, Ms Barrett detailed the instances when Mr Scalia “repeatedly urged the overruling of Roe v Wade” and closed with an embrace of the late originalist. “Nothing is flawless”, she wrote, “but I, for one, find it impossible to say that Justice Scalia did his job badly.” In speeches, Ms Barrett shares her belief that life begins at conception. As a circuitcourt judge, though, she has yet to brush up against reproductive rights—or many hotbutton controversies. She has mainly seen eye-to-eye with her colleagues: of the 46 opinions she has written on three-judge panels, only three have been dissents. All but three of her 43 majority opinions have been unanimous. But on the few occasions where she has departed from her fellow judges—or inspired a colleague to dissent—Ms Barrett has shown flashes of strident conservatism. In May 2018 she took a narrower view of a criminal’s constitutional right to a lawyer than two of her colleagues (the Seventh Circuit’s only judges appointed by Democratic presidents). In February she took another hard line against a criminal defendant, dissenting from a ruling for a convict who complained that the state had withheld evidence favourable to his case. In March Ms Barrett filed a forceful 37page dissent from a judgment against a Wisconsin felon whose crime, under state and federal law, barred him from owning a gun. According to Supreme Court precedent, the right to bear arms may be denied to “dangerous people”, she wrote, but not to all felons. Since there is no evidence that “disarming all non-violent felons” does much good—and the criminal in question

The Economist May 18th 2019

showed no “proclivity for violence”—it is a violation of the Second Amendment to strip all felons of their firearms. Ms Barrett’s expansive view of gun rights—juxtaposed with a narrower interpretation of immigrants’ rights—puts her to the right of the two Reagan appointees who formed the majority in the case. But her dissent is couched in dispassionate, straightforward terms, with none of the

barbs that often spiked Mr Scalia’s opinions—and are now popping up in other Trump appointees’ rulings. In the view of Ross Guberman, an expert on legal writing, Ms Barrett’s prose is “relentlessly clear and logical”, free of “political diatribes” and betrays little “that would pin her as an ideologue”. There may be method to her caution. “You’d almost think”, Mr Guberman says, “she has her eye on a higher court.” 7

Education policy

Class struggle N E WA R K

Cory Booker helped turn round Newark’s schools. Taking credit for that in the Democratic primary is tricky


n september 24th 2010 “The Oprah Winfrey Show” hosted the unlikely trio of Cory Booker, who was then the Democratic mayor of Newark, Chris Christie, who was then the Republican governor of New Jersey, and a skittish-looking Mark Zuckerberg. They were there to announce a $100m donation from the Facebook founder to help Newark’s beleaguered schools. Mr Booker promised it would be a “bold new paradigm for educational excellence in the country”, and helped raise another $100m in matching donations. Now that Mr Booker is a New Jersey senator running for president in a crowded Democratic primary, he seldom brings up the Zuckerberg donation. That is not because the schools have failed to improve. They have done so significantly, though not to the degree envisioned by Mr Booker, who exclaimed that “you could flip a whole city!” Instead, it is because the ingredients of Newark’s education turnaround—the

closing of bad schools, renegotiating teacher contracts to include merit pay, and expanding high-performing charter networks—are anathema to the Democratic primary voting base. Outside Newark, the public perception of the school reforms remains widely negative. Much of that is due to Dale Russakoff, a journalist, who wrote an influential and stinging portrayal of the efforts in her book, “The Prize”. Cami Anderson, the hard-charging superintendent appointed to oversee the plan, was widely criticised, and then resigned after Mr Booker decamped from Newark to Washington in 2013. Ras Baraka, a former high-school principal who is the current mayor, won election after making the contest a referendum over Ms Anderson’s popularity. A review of the recent evidence suggests this pessimism is misplaced. For district schools, the high-school graduation rate has climbed to 76%, up from 61% in 2011. A 1

Profile for MA Rtin

The Economist - 18.05.19  

The Economist - 18.05.19