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Samuel Alito Gave Quite a Speech

Supreme Court justice worries about religious freedoms, pandemic restrictions, gay marriage
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2020 10:29 AM CST
Samuel Alito Gave Quite a Speech
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito gave a 30-minute speech via video to conservative lawyers with the Federalist Society on Thursday, and his comments on issues ranging from religious freedom to gay marriage to COVID restrictions were getting lots of attention on Friday. The details:

  • COVID: Alito stressed that he didn't want to downplay the health threat posed by the coronavirus, but he warned that "the pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty," per the AP. "We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive, and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020," he said, adding that "we surely don't want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed."

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  • Religious freedom: Alito warned that Christians in the US were facing discrimination. "It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right," he said, per CNN. "For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It's often just an excuse for bigotry, and it can't be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed," he added, per Fox News. He said this lack of tolerance for opposing views also applied to law schools, where grads face "harassment" for views not in sync with "law school orthodoxy."
  • Churches: Alito criticized COVID restrictions on churches that he said were more strict than those imposed on other entities, such as casinos. "Nevada was unable to provide any justification for treating casinos more favorably than other houses of worship," he said, faulting a Supreme Court ruling with which he disagreed.
  • Gay marriage: Alito also complained about court rulings affirming the right to gay marriage, reports Politico. The rulings were leading to intolerance toward those who, because of their religious beliefs, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, he said. "Until very recently, that's what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now, it's considered bigotry."
  • Freedom of speech: "One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech," he said. "Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right."
  • Criticism: Politico notes that critics are accusing Alito of hypocrisy, saying he gave a political speech to complain about lawmakers trying to politicize the court. "This speech is like I woke up from a vampire dream," writes University of Baltimore law professor Kim Wehle. "Unscrupulously biased, political, and even angry. I can't imagine why Alito did this publicly. Totally inappropriate and damaging to the Supreme Court."
(Read more Samuel A. Alito stories.)

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