ROME, ITALY – At the Religious Liberty Initiative last week sponsored by the University of Notre Dame law school, Justice Samuel Alito made his first comments regarding abortion since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning the case of Roe v Wade. The school posted the video of Alito’s speech this week. He was apparently not listed as a speaker for the event in advance.
During his statements at the invitation-only conference, he reportedly made some comments apparently mocking foreign critics of the decision. It is quite rare for Supreme Court Justices to respond to critics of Court decisions outside of other Justices.
Alito, who wrote the majority decision, said that his opinion has been “lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders.”
“I had the honor this term of writing I think the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders,” he said. He did not hesitate to point out that the foreign leaders (or former leader in one case) felt “perfectly fine commenting on American law.”
He specifically mentioned former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying he “paid the price” for his naysaying. Johnson said that the Dobbs decision was “a big step backwards.” Shortly after making the comments, he was forced to step down due to an ethics investigation into a “string of scandals.”
“What really wounded me,” Alito said, were the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry’s, remarks. Britain’s Prince reportedly spoke to the United Nations last week on the topic, specifically on the “rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States” being a “crisis,” essentially comparing the decision to the Russia/Ukraine conflict. Clearly unaware of specifics of the US Constitution, the Dobbs decision actually returned the decision of abortion laws to the states as intended according to the Tenth Amendment. Alito also referred to French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his speech.
“Religious liberty is under attack in many places because it is dangerous to those who want to hold complete power,” Alito said. “It also probably grows out of something dark and deep in the human DNA — a tendency to distrust and dislike people who are not like ourselves.”
He also said, “[In] economically advanced countries, [religious liberty is facing a] challenge” in that America’s “increasingly secular society [is making’] a turn away from religion.”
However, he pointed out that the challenge is to “convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don’t think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection.”
He said religion promotes “domestic tranquility” and freedom of the same “provides a way for religiously diverse people to hold together and to flourish,” which “American experience illustrates…well.”
Akhil Reed Amar, professor of constitutional law at Yale Law School, said that there’s no law or rule saying a Justice can’t speak on a ruling publicly once it’s decided. “Alito’s comments weren’t about the underlying issue of abortion,” CBS News reported of Amar’s comments, “but rather about foreign dignitaries weighing in on American law without necessarily being well versed in the subject, he said. Johnson, for example, may have been seeking to draw attention away from his own domestic issues, Amar said.
“‘This was slightly impertinent on their part,’ Amar said, who also praised Alito for responding with a little bit of wit and style.”‘
Alito’s full speech can be viewed below.
This piece was written by Leah Anaya on July 30, 2022. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.
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