Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was appointed by President Trump in May 2017 and received her commission in November of the same year. Prior to becoming a judge, she was a Professor of Law at Notre Dame. Judge Barrett also served as the Chief Justice of the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. She attended Notre Dame Law School and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge Barrett affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit by the estate of a deceased hockey player. The hockey player in question died due to an overdose and his estate sued the NHL in Illinois state court for wrongful death, alleging that the NHL failed to prevent over-prescription of addictive painkiller medications. The NHL removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Judge Barrett affirmed the district court’s dismissal on forfeiture grounds, reasoning that the hockey player’s estate forfeited its claims by failing to respond to the NHL’s argument that they failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
The petitioner sought habeas relief in federal court, alleging that he was denied counsel during a critical stage of his prosecution in violation of the Sixth Amendment. The majority granted relief, and Judge Barrett dissented. In her dissent, Judge Barrett argued that the majority gave too little deference to the state court. She reasoned that because there is no Supreme Court precedent on whether a non-adversarial proceeding before a judge is a critical stage, the state court could not have unreasonably applied established federal law.
Two brokers challenged their termination by their employer, FINRA. Writing for the majority, Judge Barrett held (1) that brokers could not recover attorney’s fees they incurred in arbitration as damages in their action against FINRA; (2) the action did not meet the “legal certainty” test to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction, and (3) the action was not subject to removal pursuant to a federal question statute or the Securities Exchange Act’s exclusive jurisdictional provision. Judge Barrett noted that the legal certainty test requires courts to first determine whether state law allows recovery of the damages the plaintiff seeks. Because Judge Barrett found that state law did not allow recovery of damages, the plaintiffs claim was necessarily for less than the jurisdictional amount and failed diversity jurisdiction.
In this 1998 law review article that sparked debate during Judge Barrett’s Seventh Circuit confirmation process, Judge Barrett argues that Catholic judges should be able to recuse themselves from capital cases where their morals would preclude them from acting impartially.