The meaning of Amy Coney Barrett

By comparison with the average educated women’s life trajectory 80 years ago, these women look like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s heirs. By comparison to the most prominent contemporary avatars of liberal feminism, however — including Ginsburg’s fellow female justices and the Democratic nominee for vice president — they look somewhat more like Amy Coney Barrett, even if the size of her family and the scale of her professional success make her an outlier in almost any company.

This means that, if elevated to the Supreme Court, she will probably enjoy more celebrity than the typical justice. She’ll be more of an R.B.G.-style cultural symbol — as A.C.B., Glorious or Notorious — with her own distinctive, if considerably smaller fan base, plus a certain type of critic who regards her fecundity as threatening or irresponsible, her claim to any kind of feminism a cheat. (Obviously if she plays a role in changing the court’s abortion jurisprudence, the latter antagonism will be sharpened.)

This is a substantial burden to impose on any public figure, let alone a mom with teenagers, and for conservatives who are ready to put her initials on a bumper sticker, two cautions are in order.

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