With the selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the proposed replacement for liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a 6-3 conservative majority may shape the future direction of the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence. The generally accepted wisdom is that a more liberal court equals a court more protective to the rights of a criminal defendant. But the color of the defendant’s “collar” may make a significant difference. In recent years, justices of the Supreme Court have tended to rule differently in white-collar crime cases than how their traditional labels of liberal or conservative would suggest in “blue-collar” crime cases.

What one commentator has termed the “white-collar paradox”more conservative justices generally ruling in a manner advantageous to white-collar criminal defendantsmay be magnified if Barrett is confirmed. A review of recent decisions of the Roberts court and of decisions in which Barrett participated during her limited tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit provides some hints regarding how the Supreme Court’s future decisions may affect the law relevant to white-collar criminal practice, and suggests that the court will continue to treat white-collar defendants differently than their “blue-collar” counterparts.

The Roberts Court and the ‘White-Collar Paradox’

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