Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito gave a serious warning about protecting the First Amendment on Thursday. The judge singled out restrictions imposed in various states due to the COVID-19 outbreak, noting that some of them endanger freedom of religion and speech.
During a virtual keynote speech at a Federalist Society conference, he stated that “tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply.” He made the remarks when discussing the state of discourse in law schools and the “broader academic community.”
Alito pointed out that many recent law school graduates complained that they deal with “harassment” and “retaliation” for espousing opinions that depart “from law school orthodoxy.”
He continued, suggesting that religious liberty has not been as valued as it has in the past. “In certain quarters religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right,” he said. “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.”
Alito referred to the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who were exempted from a requirement that would have forced them to provide birth control coverage to employees despite the fact that it violates their religious beliefs. He also brought up the case of the Colorado baker who progressives tried to force to cater a gay wedding.
“The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious beliefs,” he asserted, arguing that Christians are entitled to the same protections as any other religious minority group.
When discussing the coronavirus pandemic, he stated that it has “resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” and that the country cannot allow these measures to remain after the pandemic has passed.
The justice then brought up Nevada, whose leadership treated churches differently from businesses such as casinos amid the pandemic. “Nevada was unable to provide any justification for treating casinos more favorably than other houses of worship,” he said, referring to a recent Supreme Court case, noting that the court still deferred to the governor who favored keeping casinos open.
“Religious liberty is in danger of becoming a second-class right,” he added.
Unfortunately, Justice Alito’s points were correct; two of the most important tenets of the First Amendment are in danger. We have already seen that the far left is intent on attacking free speech, whether on social media or elsewhere.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has indicated that if he wins the election, he will look for avenues through which the government can enforce hate speech regulations. Progressive journalists have penned myriad pieces attacking the idea of free speech, suggesting that the current understanding of the concept should be reconsidered. If these individuals have their way, the American view of free speech might mirror that of the United Kingdom, a nation that jails people for expressing “unacceptable” viewpoints.
When it comes to freedom of religion, Alito hit the nail on the head. But the far-left is not intent on marginalizing all religion; its attacks are overwhelmingly aimed at Christianity. It is for this reason that radical leftists attacked the Christian baker in Colorado but have not dared to trifle with bakeries owned by Muslims, many of whom share the Colorado baker’s views.
Perhaps this is yet another reason why it was fortunate that Trump was able to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court. His doing so ensured that rabid extreme leftists wouldn’t get to oppress Christianity from the bench.
Even so, the far-left has obviously not given up their assault on the First Amendment. If Biden ends up occupying the Oval Office, we can be sure that progressives will continue the battle.
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