Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito touched on the pandemic, religious liberty and tolerance for opposing views in remarks during an address to a conference of the Federalist Society this week.
The Supreme Court Justice doesn’t appear to be a fan of the lockdowns saying, “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.” He went on to say, “The COVID crisis has highlighted constitutional fault lines.” The Supreme Court justice did also say that he wasn’t trying to downplay the pandemic or criticize officials for responding to it.
Alito also discussed the attacks on religious liberties in the face of COVID-19, pointing to the case in Nevada where churches were ordered to remain closed while other large businesses were allowed to reopen. “Nevada was unable to provide any justification for treating casinos more favorably than other houses of worship,” Alito said.
The 70-year-old judge also touched on the attacks on free speech. “We need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right. Tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply,” Alito said. “In certain quarters, religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right. 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’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed.”
The Federalist Society is a group of conservatives and libertarians dedicated to reforming the current legal order. Justice Alito was speaking in a streamed speech for the group’s 2020 National Lawyers Convention, themed “The Rule of Law and the Current Crisis.”