Just before Thanksgiving two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts defended the courts’ integrity. He criticized Donald Trump’s argument that a Ninth Circuit ruling against his attempt to stop asylum seekers was made by an “Obama Judge,” Jon S. Tigar.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts told the Associated Press. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Roberts added that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
The Chief must have been irate listening to Alito’s tirade before the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C, held via Zoom.
The 70-year old Justice, nominated by President George W. Bush, attacked same-sex marriage, birth control, gun control, and mask-wearing. He might have been more celebratory after winning a 6-3 Conservative majority on the Court, with the recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as well as 53 appeals court judges during Trump’s four-year term.
Gay marriage ruling “compromises religious liberty”
Both Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas say religious liberty was compromised by the Court’s 2015 decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, that championed gay marriage.
The majority decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought,” Alito said.
“Now it’s considered bigotry,” Alito told his conservative ilk, abandoning the Federalist Society’s ethics code that asks speakers to rise above the partisan fray.
Craps and blackjack override religious freedom
Alito also railed against Nevada law that was upheld by the Court last year, allowing casinos to remain open while religious observers were prevented from gathering for major holidays, “Including Easter Sunday, Passover or Yom Kippur.”
“The Constitution protects religious freedom. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance.”
Alito also objected to Washington state’s law that forces pharmacies to sell birth control and litigation against one pharmacy owner who refused to sell it based on his religious convictions.
The Justice also blasted the Supreme Court case involving the Colorado baker who refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
“For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom, “Alito said.
Federalist society bankrolled by NRA
Alito lambasted Delaware Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for writing a brief in a landmark Second Amendment case, New York State Rifle and Gun Association. v City of New York — an NRA affiliate — scheduled for trial last December.
Senator Whitehouse and four other Democratic Senators charged that the Court was too partisan to try the Second Amendment case as Federalist Society members—and Kavanaugh’s confirmation—were bankrolled by the NRA.
Fortunately, the Court mooted the case after New York City and New York State rescinded their strict gun carry laws, sparing the nation from Federal gun open-carry laws.
Senator Whitehouse also called for restructuring the Court in light of its ballooning partisanship.
COVID spittle a matter of free speech
Alito defended anti-mask wearing Republicans, even though their spittle has sickened White House aides, the secret service, and Trump himself.
“…One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech from becoming a second-tier constitutional right,” Alito said.
“We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive, and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.
Alito also railed against LGBTQ employment equality, “having been a fierce dissenter of the LGBTQ and transgender employment rights cases decided last year,” writes Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst and John Roberts’ biographer.
Typically, Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Roberts and four liberal justices to extend federal anti-discrimination law to LGBTQ workers, Biskupic writes.
Alito (who tends to vote with far-right Clarence Thomas) excoriated Gorsuch for not promoting the Conservative argument that if President Lyndon Johnson wanted to include sexual orientation in the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning discrimination “because of sex,” he would have included it in the statute.
Commenting on Alito’s tirade, Harry Littman, professor of Constitutional Law at UCLA and UCD, and Los Angeles Times contributing writer tweeted, Alito’s speech was “as politically partisan a speech as I’ve ever seen from a justice, arrogant, tendentious and sloppy.”
WSJ defends Alito
In an article titled “Alito Defends the Courts,” the conservative The Wall Street Journal editorial page writes, “Justice Alito also highlighted some of the liberties that an independent judiciary protects.
“He pointed to litigation against a Christian-owned pharmacy in Washington to force it to carry drugs that owners considered abortifacients.’
“And he highlighted some of the pressure that progressives have put on religious liberty after the Obergefell decision protecting same-sex marriage, including a Colorado baker who had a religious objection to baking a cake for a same-sex couple.
“That the left is describing Justice Alito’s attention to the First Amendment’s free exercise clause as political proves his point. Majorities often want to compel conformity to their views.
“…Judicial independence is now a fragile American norm, subject to political whims. Justice Alito was right to defend it.”