Hundreds of publishing staffers have signed an open letter calling on Penguin Random House to axe Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s $2 million book deal because she voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Barrett’s book deal with Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Random House that focuses on conservative content, was first reported in April 2021. Politico reported at the time that Barrett had a deal for a book about how judges should avoid letting their decisions be impacted by personal feelings.
In an open letter that had received more than 550 signatures as of Friday afternoon, Barrett’s detractors called the deal “a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits.”
The letter claims its signatories “care deeply about freedom of speech” and “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 said.
“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,’” the letter said. “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.”
The letter argues that publishing the book would violate both Penguin Random House’s Code of Conduct and international human rights.
“This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship,” the letter said. “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.”
Signatories include employees of Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Barnes & Noble, as well as other publishers, authors and members of the press.
“With the midterms coming up, and the 2024 election looming, the group decided it was time to make a statement,” @publishersbrunch told Publishers Weekly on behalf of the group of signatories. “We cannot, and will not, amplify the voices of extremists (like Amy Coney Barrett) who would gladly take away the rights of millions of Americans if given the chance. I’m extremely proud to see the responses thus far and hope that this action encourages others in the industry to speak out!”