Dobbs

Justice Samuel Alito defends Dobbs decision, importance of religious freedom

By Dave Andrusko

In what evidently was his public response since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice 

Samuel Alito, author of the Dobbs decision, said he was “honored” to have written the historic 6-3 decision.

“In a keynote address in Rome that was put on by the University of Notre Dame Law School, the 72-year-old justice who was appointed to the seat by former President George W. Bush in 2006 defended the ruling and took aim at critics, including Britain’s Prince Harry and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” wrote Reuters’ A.L. Lee.

“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,” Justice Alito said, promoting laughter at the summit, which was held on July 21. 

“But what really wounded me — what really wounded me — was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision, whose name may not be spoken, with the Russian attack on Ukraine,” Alito said, referring to Harry.” 

During a speech July 18, Harry described 2022 as a “painful year in a painful decade.” Harry said the world was “witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom,” pointing to the “horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States,” among other global events as examples.

In addition to Prince Harry and Johnson, Alito poked fun at  French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who roundly criticized Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. “Macron tweeting that abortion was ‘a fundamental right for all women’ that ‘must be protected,’ while Trudeau branded the decision ‘horrific,’ saying: ‘No government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body,’.” Chantal Da Silva reported.

In his June 24 majority opinion, Alito covered an immense amount of ground. For example

Abortion is nothing new. It has been addressed by lawmakers for centuries, and the fundamental moral question that it poses is ageless.

Defenders of Roe and Casey do not claim that any new scientific learning calls for a different answer to the underlying moral question… Americans who believe that abortion should be restricted press countervailing arguments about modern developments. They note that attitudes about the pregnancy of unmarried women have changed drastically [with dramatically less social stigma]. P.33

By the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy, and the remaining States would soon follow.

Roe either ignored or misstated this history, and Casey declined to reconsider Roe’s faulty historical analysis. It is therefore important to set the record straight. p. 16

The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973. p. 25

According to the dissent, the Constitution requires the States to regard a fetus as lacking even the most basic human right—to live—at least until an arbitrary point in a pregnancy has passed. Nothing in the Constitution or in our Nation’s legal traditions authorizes the Court to adopt that “‘theory of life.’” p. 38-39

Roe was also egregiously wrong and deeply damaging. For reasons already explained, Roe’s constitutional analysis was far outside the bounds of any reasonable interpretation of the various constitutional provisions to which it vaguely pointed.

Roe was on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided, Casey perpetuated its errors, and those errors do not concern some arcane corner of the law of little importance to the American people. Rather, wielding nothing but “raw judicial power” the Court usurped the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people. p. 44.

According to a summary provided by the Notre Dame Law School, “The Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative hosted the 2022 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome last week to highlight that freedom of religion or belief is a global issue.” 

“It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don’t think that religion is a good thing that deserves protection,” Alito said. “The challenge for those who want to protect religious liberty in the United States, Europe, and other similar places is to convince people who are not religious that religious liberty is worth special protection. That will not be easy to do.”

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