Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a recent speech issued a dire warning about two of America’s most important and cherished freedoms, the freedom to practice one’s religion and the freedom to speak one’s mind.
Alito is usually termed a “conservative justice,” although that is somewhat of a misnomer in that Alito is not a conservative justice in the same way that some of his colleagues are “liberal justices.” The real difference isn’t over political policy, but one’s judicial philosophy: whereas liberal justices are comfortable legislating from the bench, conservatives, like Alito, believe that their decisions must be founded upon duly enacted legislation.
Religious Liberty is now a “disfavored right”
Alito on Thursday was the keynote speaker at the 2020 Lawyers’ Convention, an event that was hosted by the Federalist Society. There, according to Breitbart, he noted that “in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
According to Alito, these cases demonstrate that “for many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom, it’s often just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed.”
Alito also made his point, that “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right,” using the double standards we have seen with regard to coronavirus restrictions. Alito noted that the Supreme Court upheld coronavirus restrictions in California and Nevada that “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship.”
The “falling out of favor” of the right to free speech
During his address, Breitbart reports, Alito lamented what appears to be the fact that the right to free speech is slowly being eroded and, just as with Religious Liberty, is fast becoming a second-class right.
“Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier Constitutional right.”
Alito believes that it will specifically be the job of the Supreme Court to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
“We should all welcome rational, civil speech on important subjects even if we do not agree with what the speaker has to say,” Alito said.
What we have learned from the coronavirus
Finally, according to Breitbart, Alito addressed the coronavirus and the twin trends we have seen of “lawmaking by executive fiat, rather than legislation” and of “the movement toward rule by experts.” The latter is self-evident with people like Dr. Anthony Fauci, but, regarding “lawmaking by executive fiat” Alito explained:
The vision of early-20th century progressives and the New Dealers of the 1930s was that policymaking would shift from narrowminded elected legislators to an elite group of appointed experts. In a word, that policymaking would become more scientific. That dream has been realized to a large extent. Every year, administrative agencies, acting under broad delegations of authority, churn out huge volumes of regulations that dwarf the statutes enacted by the people’s elected representatives. And what have we seen in the pandemic? Sweeping restrictions imposed, for the most part, under statutes that confer enormous executive discretion.
Alito, here, certainly hit all three nails on their heads.