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She cemented a conservative Supreme Court, but a ‘cautious’ Justice Barrett sometimes resists the far-right flank

WASHINGTON — Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett appeared to lose patience last week with the right-wing narrative that the Biden administration had unlawfully coerced social media companies to remove politically charged content.

In authoring the Supreme Court’s ruling that threw out a lawsuit brought by Republican-led states and several disgruntled social media users, Barrett took aim at the flimsy nature of the claims, the lower courts that indulged them — and several of her conservative colleagues.

While Barrett forensically pointed out how the plaintiffs had failed to substantiate their allegations that content moderation decisions were unlawfully influenced by the Biden administration and criticized a federal judge for reaching conclusions that were “clearly erroneous,” fellow conservative Justice Samuel Alito appeared to view the case through a more ideological lens.

He wrote a dissenting opinion joined by two other conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch, in which he credited the claims made by the plaintiffs and concluded that the Biden administration’s actions were “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Barrett sniped back at Alito in a series of lengthy footnotes, including one in which she said that in an effort to reach the merits of the case he “draws links” between government conduct and content moderation decisions that the plaintiffs themselves did not make.

The ruling and several other recent cases illustrate how Barrett — one of former President Donald Trump’s three appointees to the nine-justice court — is at times unwilling to indulge the more extreme arguments that reach the court. She joined the court at a tumultuous time, replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following the liberal

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