Alito reluctant to discuss Supreme Court status after Roe leak

Alito reluctant to discuss Supreme Court status after Roe leak
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In his first public speech since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling, he wrote that he would overturn Roe vs. WadeJudge Samuel A. Alito Jr. quickly went through a detailed examination of legal textualism and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision that federal anti-discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers.

But I was a little puzzled by the last question from the audience of a crowd in Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University: Are he and the other judges in a place where they could enjoy a good meal together?

“I think it would be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, is everyone okay in these very difficult times?” asked the interrogator.

The Supreme Court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, show a leaked draft

The fact that Alito was speaking via closed circuit from a Supreme Court room seven miles away, rather than in person, was a sign that these are not normal times.

“This is a topic that I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today, you know, given all the circumstances,” Alito replied.

After a pause, he added: “The court right now, we had our conference this morning, we’re doing our job. We are taking new cases, we are heading towards the end of the term, which is always a hectic time as we express our opinions.”

The court met Thursday for the first time since the draft opinion was revealed to Politico and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. opened a leak investigation.

Supreme Court to investigate leaked draft opinion on abortion

After laying out the timeline for the court’s work to be done by the end of June or early July, Alito skipped the usual boilerplate that judges tend to employ about disagreeing on the law but remaining respectful and friendly.

Instead, he concluded: “So that’s where we are.”

Disclosure of the draft opinion, indicating that at least five members of the court voted at least tentatively to overturn Roethe guarantee of the right to abortion, has shaken the court, which prides itself on private deliberations. The protesters rallied at Alito’s home, not far from the George Mason campus, and were outside Thursday’s ticketed event, the fourth annual Scalia Forum.

As attendees filed into the law school event, roughly two dozen protesters from both sides of the abortion issue shouted chants outside in a campus plaza near the law school building in Arlington, Virginia.

“Hey, hey, ho ho, Alito has to go! Hey, hey, ho ho, we must defend Roe!

The group was largely made up of George Mason students who did not study for final exams to prove themselves.

“I had a finish last night and I have a finish tomorrow,” said Adam Rizzoli, a 19-year-old freshman from Vienna, Virginia. But, he added, some things are more important than one’s GPA. “Sometimes you just have to act.”

Several students traveled from the university’s main campus in Fairfax to denounce the school’s decision to take Alito in and express their support for abortion rights.

“As a Mason student, the support of a judge who upholds outdated constitutional interpretations at the expense of women everywhere feels like a slap in the face,” said Emily Williams, 21, a junior.

A group of five anti-abortion counter-protesters gathered about 30 feet from the other group. Christine Gomez, 20, a sophomore at Northern Virginia Community College and a member of Students for Life of America, yelled through a megaphone, briefly obscuring the voices of the original group.

“Abortion is violence! Abortion is oppression!”

Gomez, who is studying psychology, said she wanted to go to the George Mason campus to make sure her side of the abortion debate was heard.

Alyssa Thoburn, a criminal justice freshman at Liberty University, echoed Gomez.

“People think we hate women, some people say we’re against birth control,” Thoburn said. “We just want people to have the right to life.”

Alito’s topic focused on how Scalia, who died in 2016, had transformed the court’s methods of reviewing federal law, placing much more emphasis on the text of the law than on the intent of Congress. It’s a favored approach, Alito said, but it was misused in the case of gay rights. Bostock v. Clayton County.

In that case, the court ruled 6-3 that a landmark federal civil rights law from the 1960s protects gay and transgender workers, a decisive ruling for LGBTQ rights written by one of the court’s most conservative justices. Neil M. Gorsuch.

Gorsuch and Roberts joined the court liberals in decision. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex,” includes gay and transgender employees.

Gorsuch is a “colleague and friend,” Alito said, and someone he is happy to have on the court. But he said the decision based solely on the text of the law was “in my opinion, indefensible.”

While he said he was not defending past actions, Alito said it was clear that Congress at the time allowed and practiced discrimination.

“It is inconceivable that Congress or voters in 1964 understood that discrimination on the basis of sex meant discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, let alone gender identity,” Alito said. “If Title VII had been understood at that time in the sense of what bostock he argued that it meant that the ban on discrimination on the basis of sex would never have been enacted. In fact, she may not have gotten a single vote in Congress.”

He said the majority cited an opinion written by Scalia to justify his decision, but thought he had misunderstood it.

“I wish Nino was here to enlighten us,” Alito said. If Scalia said Alito was wrong, “he would take that assessment in good humor and learn from the exchange,” the judge said.

Nicole Asbury and Susan Svrluga contributed to this report.

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