People who want to predict how she might rule will likely look at her Catholic faith and assume one thing. But when you consider the personal sacrifices she has made in her family, one realizes that things are more complicated than the typical left-versus-right paradigm we are force-fed.

“It would be interesting to see how a Justice Barrett would rule on immigration cases,” David Lat, founder of Above the Law, a legal news website, tells me. “Her critics try to claim that her Catholic faith would affect her abortion decisions, even though she has made clear that she would not let religion influence her work as a judge. But these same critics never suggest that Catholic social teaching might make her moderate or liberal on an issue like immigration. How a judge’s personal background influences her work as a judge is a very complex matter that can’t be easily predicted or generalized about.”

Should a judge’s background even matter? Sonia Sotomayor took a lot of flak for her “wise Latina” comments, but the explanation she presented during her confirmation hearing may be appropriate here: “Life experiences do influence us in good ways,” Sotomayor said. “That’s why we seek the enrichment of our legal system from life experiences, but that’s not what drives a result. The impartiality is an understanding that the law is what drives the result… I wasn’t encouraging the belief that I thought that (life experiences) should drive the result.”