When the current Supreme Court term began, many expected Justice Amy Coney Barrett to step into the spotlight as the new swing justice, making key decisions in divisive cases. She has indeed proven to be the most interesting justice on the court, with her incisive questions during oral arguments and detailed analysis in her written opinions.

However, Justice Barrett’s principled independence has also made her the loneliest justice on the bench. While she has occasionally aligned with the Democratic appointees on important cases, her conservative colleagues have mostly moved further to the right. In instances where the majority made questionable decisions, Justice Barrett stood out by criticizing her colleagues for failing to send a unified message.

For example, in a case involving anti-vaccine activists and red states suing the Biden administration, Justice Barrett wrote the majority opinion emphasizing that the plaintiffs had not proven harm from alleged government actions. She also pushed back against a controversial ruling that protected conduct cannot be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions against former presidents.

Despite her willingness to challenge her fellow justices, Justice Barrett remains committed to explaining her reasoning and finding common ground in contentious cases. This dedication to thoughtful analysis and independent thinking sets her apart as a truly unique and influential figure on the Supreme Court.