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Tipsheet

MSNBC Show Host Mocking Conservative Justices Speaks Right to Alito's Point

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published quite the piece detailing conversations some of their reporters had with Justice Samuel Alito. The piece, drawing heavily on comments from the justice himself, shared a lot of what many already suspected when it comes to what the justices went through, though it still made quite the difference to hear it from Alito himself. He was the justice who wrote the opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, which was used to overturn Roe v. Wade. Although the decision wasn't formally handed down until June 24, someone leaked it on May 2, resulting in the targeting of conservative justices, including Alito. 

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And yet even after what these justices went through, the left still continues to mock them, proving Alito's points about a lack of protection and how unfortunate it is for the U.S. Supreme Court to be considered illegitimate. Alex Wagner did just that on Friday night's episode of MSNBC's "Alex Wagner Tonight," not long after the Wall Street Journal piece came out. 

Wagner's comments were ridiculous from the start, as highlighted by NewsBusters' Alex Christy. It wasn't just Alito's comments, which provided the headline of "Justice Samuel Alito: ‘This Made Us Targets of Assassination,’" that drew Wagner's ire. She also discussed how there is an abortion pill case before the courts deciding whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) erred in approving mifepristone in 2000. While U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled last month that the FDA violated standards, his decision has been appealed and the Supreme Court  just recently paused it while the case is on appeal. 

"So sorry to interrupt your work flow, Justice Alito. It's just a decision about whether or not millions of people with uteruses across the country can access the most commonly used method of abortion, but sorry for bothering you," Wagner ridiculously said in quite the annoying tone, unable to bring herself to say "women."

As Christy aptly put, though, "'people with uteruses' somehow wasn’t the worst part of Wagner’s monologue." Rather, it was her contempt for Alito's very safety and even life.

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Wagner, to her credit, did say that "physical threats against anyone are reprehensible." That means she should know better then. Alito had to leave his home for a time due to illegal protests. He gave talks for events remotely. Here's part of how the Wall Street Journal described it:

[Alito] adds that “I don’t feel physically unsafe, because we now have a lot of protection.” He is “driven around in basically a tank, and I’m not really supposed to go anyplace by myself without the tank and my members of the police force.” Deputy U.S. marshals guard the justices’ homes 24/7. (The U.S. Marshals Service, a bureau of the Justice Department, is distinct from the marshal of the court, who reports to the justices and oversees the Supreme Court Police.)

Someone actually did want to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Nicholas Roske has pled not guilty to federal charges. Worse is that he potentially wanted to target even more conservative justices. 

As part of her diatribe, Wagner downplayed Alito's safety concerns in a way. Or perhaps she didn't read the full piece that the Wall Street Journal published. 

The main point of Wagner's diatribe against Alito touched upon his concerns addressing people denouncing the Court as illegitimate. "To be crystal clear here, physical threats against anyone are reprehensible, but the bulk of this interview is not actually about that, the bulk of this interview is justice Alito describing his outrage that anyone is criticizing the Court at all," Wagner had complained. 

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The comments from Alito that Wagner chose to go after included the justice's mention that "this kind of concerted attack on the Court and on individual justices is new during my lifetime. We are being hammered daily, and I think quite unfairly and a lot of instances. And nobody, practically nobody, is defending us." Alito also said that this "undermines confidence in the government."

Alito does have a point that "nobody, practically nobody, is defending us" given how the Biden administration couldn't be bothered to. The White House even chose to prioritize the overturning of Roe rather than how the leak endangered the justices, and then White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said they "encourage" what were illegal protests, so long as they were "peaceful."

It was later unearthed that the Biden administration deserves criticisms in other ways, specifically how the law was hardly enforced, as highlighted by the Wall Street Journal piece:

A federal law called Section 1507 makes it a crime to picket or parade “in or near” a federal judge’s residence “with the intent of influencing” him “in the discharge of his duty.” During a hearing last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland told Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) that the marshals have “full authority to arrest” violators of Section 1507. But according to training slides obtained by Sen. Katie Britt (R., Ala.), deputies on the justices’ residential details are told to enforce the law only as “a last resort to prevent physical harm to the Justices and/or their families.”

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Wagner only touched upon a small part of the discussion, though. Granted, it's a long piece, but having the full picture here is important. Wagner owes her readers a full context. Here's more of what else Alito had to say, per the Wall Street Journal:

But as the court has grown more conservative in recent years, the left has stepped up the attacks on the court’s “legitimacy,” including character assassination of individual justices, with little objection from mainstream Democrats and plenty of help from the media.

Justice Alito says “this type of concerted attack on the court and on individual justices” is “new during my lifetime. . . . We are being hammered daily, and I think quite unfairly in a lot of instances. And nobody, practically nobody, is defending us. The idea has always been that judges are not supposed to respond to criticisms, but if the courts are being unfairly attacked, the organized bar will come to their defense.” Instead, “if anything, they’ve participated to some degree in these attacks.”

Judges are in a double bind: If they don’t respond, the attacks stand. If they do, they diminish the mystique on which judicial authority depends. Justice Alito demurs when we ask about “ethics” accusations against Justice Clarence Thomas from partisan media: “I’ll stay away from that.” But he does address a less-recent drama: “After Justice Kavanaugh was accused of being a rapist during his Senate confirmation hearings, he made an impassioned speech, made an impassioned scene, and he was criticized because it was supposedly not judicious, not the proper behavior for a judge to speak in those terms. I don’t know—if somebody calls you a rapist?”

Those who throw the mud then disparage the justices for being dirty. “We’re being bombarded with this,” Justice Alito says, “and then those who are attacking us say, ‘Look how unpopular they are. Look how low their approval rating has sunk.’ Well, yeah, what do you expect when you’re—day in and day out, ‘They’re illegitimate. They’re engaging in all sorts of unethical conduct. They’re doing this, they’re doing that’?”

It “undermines confidence in the government,” Justice Alito says. “It’s one thing to say the court is wrong; it’s another thing to say it’s an illegitimate institution. You could say the same thing about Congress and the president. . . . When you say that they’re illegitimate, any of the three branches of government, you’re really striking at something that’s essential to self-government.”

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Former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) also spoke to Alito's point when during an episode of "The Al Franken Podcast" he expressed that "the court is a very divisive entity now, institution right now. And the Supreme Court, to me, is illegitimate" and even called Chief Justice John Roberts a "villain." Franken was forced to resign in disgrace, though, and so his remarks may not carry the amount of weight he'd like them to. 

The bulk of Wagner's complaints, as highlighted by Christy, had to do with ethics concerns being used by the left to once again target Justice Clarence Thomas, and, to some degree, Justice Neil Gorsuch. 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) invited Roberts to appear before the committee to discuss those concerns, though the chief justice turned down the highly unusual request in a letter that schooled the chairman on separation of powers and effectively told him to stay in his lane. So obsessed are Democrats though that the committee is holding a hearing on Tuesday, revealing how unoriginal and lazy Wagner's complaints are.

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