UNITED STATES—On Thursday, November 12, the National Federalist Society hosted Honorary Associate Supreme Court Justice, Samuel A. Alito Jr as one of their featured speakers at the 2020 National Lawyer Convention.
Alito spoke about coronavirus restriction infringing upon religious freedom. Justice Alito’s remarks gained attention from both sides.
“We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive, and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020,” Alito stated. He went into detail to avoid his statements being misconstrued indicating COVID restrictions were, “based on expertise, and in the purest form, scientific expertise.”
Laws giving an official so discretion can be abused, adding, “We surely don’t want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed. Over the summer the Supreme Court, received two applications to Stay COVID restrictions that blatantly discriminated against houses of worship; one from California, one from Nevada. In both cases the court allowed the discrimination to stand. The only justification given was that we should differ from the judgment of the Governor’s because they have the responsibility to safeguard public health.”
Judge Alito continued, “If what I have said so far does not convince you that religious liberty is in danger of becoming a second-class right, consider a case that came shortly after the Nevada case. The FDA has long had a rule providing that a woman who wants a medication abortion must go to a clinic to pick up the drug. The idea is that it’s important for the woman to receive instructions about the drug at that time. The rule was first adopted in 2000 and has been kept on the books ever since.”
“A few weeks ago,” Judge Alito continued, “A federal district judge in Maryland issued an order prohibiting the FDA from enforcing this drug any place in the country. Enforcement he found would interfere with the right of women to get abortions. Why? Because some women fearful of contracting COVID, if they left their homes, would hesitate about making the trip to the clinic.”
Alito added, “The governor of Maryland presumably advised by public health experts had apparently concluded that Marylanders could safely engage in all sorts of activities outside the home, such as visiting an indoor exercise facility, a hair or nail salon, and the state’s casinos. If deference was appropriate in the California and Nevada cases, then surely, we should have differed from the [FDA] on the issue of drug safety. But no, in this instance the writing question was the abortion right not the right to religious liberty, and the abortion right prevailed.”
Media outlets criticized Justice Alito for his remarks indicating he was as one commenter stated, “Attacking the Supreme Court’s decision that protects marriage equality.”
The 2020 National Lawyer’s Convention Convened from November 9-13. All sessions were live-streamed and available via YouTube at the podcast platform of choice.