Liberals have grown increasingly critical of the U.S. Supreme Court based on its conservative majority and rulings on hot-button social issues.
For his part, however, Justice Samuel Alito explained this week why he believes such criticism is unwarranted.
“No trouble with fair criticism”
The conservative justice’s comments came during a lecture at the University of Notre Dame that focused on the court’s emergency docket as well as the backlash over three recent decisions in particular.
Critics have railed against the court’s rulings to allow a restrictive Texas abortion law to remain in place, to end the federal eviction moratorium, and to permit Trump-era immigration restrictions to continue.
Some Democrats have argued that justices have been improperly using the so-called shadow docket, which is a process by which the court can consider emergency actions.
In his lecture, Alito slammed such opprobrium, stating that he has “no trouble with fair criticism of the substance of those decisions” but takes issue with “all the media and political talk about our sinister shadow docket.”
He went on to declare that “there was nothing new or shadowy” about the manner by which the court arrived at its decisions, noting that “it’s hard to see” how any other process could have been effective.
“False and inflammatory claim”
“The Supreme Court and the lower federal courts have a lot of power, but here’s the power they do not have: They do not have the power to make the world stand still while litigation takes place,” Alito explained.
Citing the perceived absurdity of Democratic criticism, the justice went on to address specific arguments, which he said were being used to feed the “unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution.”
He went after Adam Serwer, who wrote in The Atlantic that the “conservative majority on the Supreme Court was so eager to nullify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent securing the right to abortion, that it didn’t even wait for oral arguments” before ruling on the Texas law.
“Put aside the false and inflammatory claim that we nullified Roe v. Wade,” Alito said. “We did no such thing and we said that expressly in our order.”
He cited lines from the order to prove his point and concluded with an opinion that likely resonated with supporters of the court, asserting that Serwer’s claim “is flatly wrong and the suggestion that we should’ve held oral argument is ridiculous.”