Supreme Court justice thinks Americans have more of a right to be homophobic than marry or have an abortion

Lily Wakefield
·4-min read

Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito has launched another attack on same-sex marriage in the US while excusing and defending homophobia.

Just last month, a week after Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote in a statement that Obergefell vs Hodges, the case that legalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states, had “ruinous consequences for religious liberty”.

“Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other anti-discrimination laws,” the pair wrote.

“It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process, with the people deciding not to provide statutory protections for religious liberty under state law.”

On Thursday (12 November), Alito continued his public crusade against marriage equality when he gave the keynote speech at the annual virtual convention for the Federalist Society, an association of legal professionals with extremely conservative, right-wing views.

In his speech, Alito said: “You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

“Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.

“That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise.

“Yes, the opinion of the court included words meant to calm the fears of those who cling to traditional views on marriage.

“But I could see, and so did the other justices in dissent, where the decision would lead. I wrote the following: ‘I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers and schools.’

“That is just what is coming to pass.

“One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech. Although that freedom is falling out of favour in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right.”

Alito also used his speech bring up the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and to defend the baker in the case who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple.

He said there was “no reason to think” that the baker’s homophobia “would deprive any same-sex couple of a wedding cake”, as they were given one for free by another bakery.

After condemning marriage equality, justice Samuel Alito moved on to attack reproductive rights.

In his Federalist Society speech, Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito slammed a federal judge who suspended the rule requiring people to collect abortion pills in person, before moving on to contraception.

Alito criticised the state of Washington for requiring pharmacies to stock “so-called morning after pills which destroy an embryo after fertilisation”, and suggesting that pharmacies owned by people who are anti-abortion should be allowed to refuse.

Aside from placing “religious freedom” above reproductive rights, Alito’s statement on emergency contraception was also glaringly inaccurate. It is unclear whether it was an intentional lie or a lack of basic knowledge on how babies are made.

If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex Plan B, otherwise known as the “morning after pill”, stops or delays ovulation in a person who is able to get pregnant. There is no fertilised egg, and therefore no “embryo” to “destroy”.

Live-tweeting the speech, Slate‘s Mark Stern wrote on Twitter: “That was easily the most political speech I’ve ever seen delivered by a Supreme Court justice. Wow.

“Same-sex marriage, guns, abortion, contraception, persecution of the Federalist Society … he really squeezed it all in there. Yikes.”

He added: “Probably the strangest aspect of Alito’s speech, other than his attack on COVID restrictions, was his claim that people who oppose same-sex marriage get called ‘bigots’ and this somehow threatens freedom of speech.

“But how?! Public criticism is not censorship! He knows this!”