Saturday, November 14, 2020

NO ONE Is Above Woke Consensus Restraints On Thought And Speech!!!

slate |  On Thursday night, Justice Sam Alito delivered the keynote address at this year’s all-virtual Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. The Federalist Society, a well-funded network of conservative attorneys, has come under unusual scrutiny after Donald Trump elevated scores of its members to the federal judiciary. Its leaders insist that it is a mere debate club, a nonpartisan forum for the exchange of legal ideas. But Alito abandoned any pretense of impartiality in his speech, a grievance-laden tirade against Democrats, the progressive movement, and the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alito’s targets included COVID-related restrictions, same-sex marriage, abortion, Plan B, the contraceptive mandate, LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, and five sitting Democratic senators.

Ironically, Alito began his prerecorded address by condemning an effort by the U.S. Judicial Conference to forbid federal judges from being members of the Federalist Society. He then praised, by name, the four judges who spearheaded a successful effort to defeat the ban—or, as Alito put it, who “stood up to an attempt to hobble the debate that the Federalist Society fosters.” Alito warned that law school students who are members of the Federalist Society tell him they “face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

These comments revealed early on that Alito would not be abiding by the usual ethics rules, which require judges to remain impartial and avoid any appearance of bias. The rest of his speech served as a burn book for many cases he has participated in, particularly those in which he dissented. Remarkably, Alito did not just grouse about the outcome of certain cases, but the political context of those decisions, and the broader cultural and political forces behind them. Although the justice accused several Democratic senators of being unprofessional, he himself defied the basic principles of judicial conduct.

For instance, the justice criticized state governors who’ve issued strict lockdown orders in response to COVID-19, referring to specific cases that came before the court. Alito said these “sweeping” and “previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty” have served as a “constitutional stress test,” with ominous results. The government’s response to COVID-19, Alito continued, has “highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck.” He complained about lawmaking by an “elite group of appointed experts,” citing not just COVID rules but the entire regulatory framework of the federal government.

Alito also warned of a broader, ongoing assault on religious liberty. “In certain corners,” he alleged, “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.” Alito condemned the Obama administration’s “ protracted campaign” and “unrelenting attack” against the Little Sisters of the Poor, which refused to submit a form to the federal government opting out of the contraceptive mandate. The group alleged that submitting this notice burdened its religious exercise. Alito also disparaged Washington state for requiring pharmacies to provide emergency contraception—which, he claimed, “destroys an embryo after fertilization.” (That is false.) Finally, Alito rebuked Colorado for attempting to compel Jack Phillips to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.* He noted that the couple was given a free cake and supported by “celebrity chefs.”