Publisher Pressured to Cancel Amy Coney Barrett’s Book Deal

Hundreds of publishing industry professionals signed a letter to Penguin Random House.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Over 700 progressive members of the publishing world have signed an open letter calling on Penguin Random House to cancel Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s upcoming book.
  • The letter claims that Barrett’s assistance in overturning Roe v. Wade makes her guilty of “assault on inalienable human rights.”
  • Barrett has reportedly already received a $2 million advance for her book from the publishing house, which would indicate that a contract is already in place.
  • The Supreme Court justice’s work is supposed to be published under the imprint, Sentinal, which is known for publishing conservative titles.
  • The imprint responded to calls for the cancelation of Barrett’s book by saying, “We remain fully committed to publishing authors who, like Justice Barrett, substantively shape today’s most important conversations.” 
CONTENTS OF THE LETTER:
  • “As members of the writing, publishing, and broader literary community of the United States, we care deeply about freedom of speech,” the letter sent to Barrett’s publisher said. “We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care.”
  • “We recognize that harm is done to a democracy not only in the form of censorship, but also in the form of assault on inalienable human rights. As such, we are calling on Penguin Random House to recognize its own history and corporate responsibility commitments by reevaluating its decision to move forward with publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book,” the letter went on to say.
  • “The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that overturned Roe hinged on exactly what Coney Barrett’s book is reportedly about—the judiciary’s role and ‘how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule.’ Yet, it seems this is exactly what Coney Barrett has done, inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans while appropriating the rhetoric of even-handedness—and Penguin Random House has agreed to pay her a sum of $2 million to do it.”
  • “Therefore, we believe that moving forward with Coney Barrett’s book places Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House both in direct conflict with their own Code of Conduct and in violation of international human rights,” the letter said, seeming to equate publishing Barrett’s work with the illegal activity.
  • “This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship. Many of us work daily with books we find disagreeable to our personal politics. Rather, this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits. Coney Barrett is free to say as she wishes, but Penguin Random House must decide whether to fund her position at the expense of human rights in order to inflate its bottom line, or to truly stand behind the values it proudly espouses to hold.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Coney Barrett is the most recent addition to the Supreme Court and came to the court to take the place of late progressive Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020.
  • Barrett’s book is slated to be published sometime in 2024 and will be focused on the way in which justices are supposed to keep their personal opinions out of their decision-making process while ruling.