However, even though her ideological estimate was furthest to the right of the judges currently on the 7th Circuit, Barrett was statistically indistinguishable from the three other Trump appointees and three judges appointed by other Republicans, including prominent conservative Judges Diane Sykes and Frank Easterbrook. “[Barrett is] clearly near the right side of the conservative spectrum on the court,” Fischman told us. “She’s not off the charts, though — she’s in line with other well-known, well-respected conservative judges on the court.”
But there are some differences between Barrett and her current conservative colleagues. Fischman and Cope also dug into how judges ruled on various types of issues and found that Barrett is closer to the middle of the court on cases involving employment discrimination, labor and criminal defendants, but much more conservative in cases involving civil rights — a category that is mainly composed of cases involving prisoners’ rights and civil rights claims against government employees, but also includes hot-button issues like gun rights, voting rights and abortion rights.
Barrett’s record on abortion has come under a lot of scrutiny, but Fischman noted that she might also be especially conservative on gun rights. She only heard a handful of cases involving Second Amendment rights during her time on the 7th Circuit, but she came out strongly against several of her conservative colleagues in a case involving a law stripping felons of their gun rights, arguing that the Second Amendment doesn’t allow such a blanket ban. Those views could be especially relevant on the Supreme Court, which hasn’t heard a major case involving gun rights in almost a decade.