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Tipsheet

Justice Samuel Alito Trolls Foreign Leaders Complaining About Dobbs Opinion

Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Justice Samuel Alito delivered a keynote speech at the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome last week, which as the summit's theme suggests, focused on religious liberty. He's making headlines, though, for some remarks added last minute into his speech, which included referencing his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade in last month's Dobbs v. Jackson decision. 

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While Alito pointed out he was not planning on referencing specific examples, he considered changing his mind after foreign leaders thought it appropriate to comment on the Dobbs decision.

"I’ve had a few second thoughts over the last few weeks since 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 who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law," he said.

This included Boris Johnson, who at the time the decision was handed down last month, was the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He has since resigned, though. Justice Alito joked that Johnson "paid the price" for his remarks.

Even Vox's Ian Millhiser laughed at such remarks about Johnson, though he also miscategorized Alito's remarks when tweeting about the speech. Millhiser is a particularly vocal critic of the Supreme Court, and, in a now deleted tweet, appeared to cheer on whomever leaked the Dobbs opinion authored by Alito, leading to swift backlash on Twitter.

"Seriously, shout out to whoever the hero was within the Supreme Court who said 'f*ck it! Let’s burn this place down,'" the now deleted tweet read. 

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Following that leak, protesters showed up to the homes of conservative justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who only concurred with the Dobbs decision. Justice Alito had to leave his home, and a suspect is facing a federal charge for attempting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

In addition to Johnson, other foreigners referenced by the justice included French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister, as well as Prince Harry blasted the decision, in the same breath as condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while giving a speech at the United Nations

Earlier this month, the European Union voted in favor of a resolution to condemn the decision and also asked that the so-called right to a "safe and legal abortion" be added to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

It's worth noting that in European countries, of those that do allow elective abortion, an overwhelming majority limit the procedure to 12 weeks. The United States, under the strict confines of Roe, was one of just seven nations that allowed for elective abortion past 20-weeks. As a result of the Dobbs decision, states now get to decide their own abortion laws. 

Also during his speech, while he referred to religious liberty in this country as something that "has been truly an historic accomplishment," Alito also cautioned that no such human achievement is ever permanent. "Therefore, we can’t lightly assume that the religious liberty enjoyed today in the United States, in Europe, and in many other places will always endure. Religious liberty is fragile, and religious intolerance and persecution have been recurring features of human history," he added.

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He also spoke of religious people and non-religious people finding common ground, in light of a "challenge" people who wish to protect religious liberty face when having to "convince people who are not religious that religious liberty is worth special protection," which the justice said "will not be easy to do."

When it comes to that common ground, though, Alito said to emphasize benefits that society enjoys overall when religious liberty is protected, charitable work done by groups and people of faith, and the social reform that has been fueled and flourished, with a specific example being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was also an ordained minister. 

"If religious liberty is protected, religious leaders and other men and women of faith will be able to speak out on social issues," he said. "People with deep religious convictions may be less likely to succumb to dominating ideologies or trends, and more likely to act in accordance with what they see as true and right. Civil society can count on them as engines of reform."

"Alito" is trending over Twitter on Friday morning, with the social platform adding a note about the trend that "Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito makes his first public comments since the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade." As the focus of Alito's remarks focused on religious liberty, "Separation of Church and State" has been trending as well, in part by those mocking the justice and his speech. 

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