Justice Alito worries about unduly removing jurors with ‘traditional religious beliefs’

 February 21, 2024

In a remark attached to an orders list, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito expressed his worries on Tuesday with the labeling as "bigots" of prospective jurors who have "traditional religious beliefs" on homosexuality.

On Tuesday, the highest court in the land decided not to hear a case concerning the validity of excluding prospective jurors because of their deeply held religious views, as The Washington Examiner reported.

In this instance, the Missouri Department of Corrections was sued by Jean Finney, a lesbian, who had filed a discrimination action against her prior employment.

Near the end of Tuesday's orders list, Justice Alito—one of six Republican-appointed justices on the high court—issued a statement in which he concurred with the decision not to hear the case but cautioned that, in his opinion, the appeals court's ruling in Finney's favor may have unintended negative consequences.

From the Justice

“That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges,” Alito said and cited a 2015 case that found same-sex couples can be married under two clauses of the 14th Amendment.

"Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be 'labeled as bigots and treated as such' by the government," Alito said, reiterating his earlier worries.

In Finney's successful trial, her attorney asked the judge to remove three Christian jurors who had previously stated their conviction that homosexuality is a sin. The lawyer argued that the jurors' biases could have impacted the outcome of the case. The judge denied the motion.

Possible Discrimination

The state of Missouri filed an appeal, claiming that the jury selection process had been biased against religious minorities.

The elimination of the jurors was based on their beliefs, not their Christian faith, according to an appeals court. Despite the state's appeal, the Supreme Court chose not to consider the matter.

The remarks made by the nominee of former President George W. Bush seemed to demonstrate that he is still uneasy about Obergefell, the case that was ultimately determined by a razor-thin margin of 5-4.

The Previous Case

Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas have seemed to be nudging their colleagues toward the possibility of reevaluating the 2015 decision since 2015. They said the 5-4 ruling had turned "people of good will as bigots" and created a right that wasn't in the Constitution.

Just two justices—Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—remain from the majority that decided the Obergefell case.

Through his nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, former president Donald Trump helped turn the Supreme Court into a 6-3 Republican-appointed majority by 2020.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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