Justice Samuel Alito, a man who is long-regarded as one of the ‘conservative’ justices on the Supreme Court, according to a recent interview reported by ThomsonReuters said that the current COVID-19 pandemic has been a kind of ‘constitutional stress test’ to see how the integrity of the rights guaranteed in it would be able to stand up, and he alluded that the US is failing it and risks relegating certain rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to a ‘second tier’.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to “previously unimaginable” curbs on individual liberty, singling out restrictions on religious events.
The justice, who is seen as a conservative, told a meeting of the Federalist Society late on Thursday he was not underplaying the severity of the crisis or criticizing any officials for their response.
But he added: “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.”
“The COVID crisis has served as sort of a constitutional stress test,” he said during his address over a video link for the conservative organization’s annual conference https://bit.ly/2H21TvK.
Alito, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006, referred to restrictions on gatherings that had affected religious events.
“Think of worship services! Churches closed on Easter Sunday, synagogues closed for Passover in Yom Kippur”, he said.
“It pains me to say this,” Alito added, “but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
The justice said freedom of speech was also under threat.
“Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right,” he said.
Alito’s remarks on free speech echoed his words from 2016 at the same event when he referred to college campus culture that conservatives say stifles free speech to avoid offending political sensibilities on matters such as gender, race and religion.
Social norms had created a list of things that was now unacceptable for students, professors and employees to say, he added on Thursday.
“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman”, he added. “Until very recently that’s what a vast majority of Americans thought. Now its considered bigotry.” (source)
What should concern people more is that laws are a reflection of the values of the people in society, and that the law is changing not because of a ‘small group’ per se, but because the desires of the people themselves are changing. America is not what it once was, and it is changing into something different, and the changes to the laws reflect those changes in they who live in the society. This is a trend that is much longer-term and more dangerous, and something that will have serious effects for the future.