Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is facing widespread backlash for mocking world leaders who criticized him for overturning abortion rights in the United States and hinting that his religious belief, not the law, was the real motive behind the decision.
The court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade sparked mass protests in the U.S. and abroad, as Western nations have generally been moving to increase abortion access.
Alito, who penned the majority opinion in overturning abortion rights, used part of his keynote speech on religious liberty at an event hosted by Notre Dame Law School in Rome to attack those who disagree with the court’s decision.
“I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders,” the conservative judge said, pausing for laughter from the audience, “who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law.”
“One of these was former [British] Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price,” Alito said mockingly, prompting more laughs. He threw in a legal joke: “Post hoc ergo propter hoc, right?”
Johnson had called the decision a “backwards step.” He recently stepped down over an unrelated string of scandals.
“But others are still in office,” Alito continued. “President [Emmanuel] Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau I believe are two.” Canada’s Justin Trudeau called the decision “horrific,” and the French leader released a statement expressing solidarity with Americans “whose freedoms have today been compromised by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Alito then attacked Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex for criticizing the ruling.
“What really wounded me, what really wounded me, was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision whose name may not be spoken with the Russian attack on Ukraine,” Alito said. Chuckles and groans could be heard across the audience.
Prince Harry gave a speech in mid-July to mark Mandela Day, a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life’s work. He said that “from the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States, we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom, the cause of Nelson Mandela’s life.”
Alito’s speech was met with disdain by internet users. Watch the speech and some of the reactions below:
In his Rome speech on religious liberty, Justice Alito mocked "foreign leaders" who condemned his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, including Boris Johnson, Macron, Trudeau, and … Prince Harry.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) July 28, 2022
What a pompous and arrogant jackass.
— Andrew C Laufer, Esq (@lauferlaw) July 29, 2022
Alito working the room, basking in the laughs. Bearded, in a tux, at a religious liberty speech in Rome. He thinks it’s a fucking joke that women no longer have agency over their own bodies in many states in America because of his own religious beliefs?
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) July 28, 2022
It's good the GOP Justices aren't pretending they're anything but Republican politicians anymore
— XLProfessor (@XLProfessor) July 28, 2022
Alito doesn't even pretend to be a judge anymore. He is a religious zealot–using his power to impose his beliefs on everyone else.
In a functioning democracy, that would be cause for removal–because he does not follow his oath of office.
— Art Martin (@gartmartin9) July 28, 2022
alito jokes abt taking away women's rights but u knw who didn't laugh? The 10yo rape victim forced to travel out of state for an abortion or the woman forced to carry her dead fetus for 2 wks or the woman forced to endure painful labor to deliver a nonviable fetus or the woman…
— Covie (@covie_93) July 29, 2022
The levity with which he discusses this situation is pathological to me.
— Learner (@epictitus2020) July 28, 2022
What’s weird about this is that Alito seems to *enjoy* being the subject of derision. There’s an absence of humility that feels inappropriate for a sitting Supreme Ct Justice.
— Daniel T. Ho, Esq. (@RealDanHo) July 28, 2022
“I found Alito was the kind of young man who when he was at Princeton railed against coeducation, railed against letting women into the eating clubs …”
“He honestly struck me as one of those very self-righteous types seeking to remake society.”
— greenlight (@stevenkim11011) July 28, 2022
"I'm Sam Alito and my pronouns are 'medieval' amd 'smug'."
— J.Dave (@JDaveCA) July 28, 2022
Wow. The utter contempt for women and anyone standing up for women is very obvious.
— Kathy Jones-Hospod (@JonesHospodTX) July 29, 2022
The US Supreme Court has made an ad and it’s surprisingly honest and informative 🇺🇸
✨ feat. @pixelsmixel
— theJuiceMedia (@thejuicemedia) July 26, 2022
We need to stop using rightwing propaganda like 'religious liberty.' That's not what people like Alito support. The only liberty re religion they care about is the liberty to force their religious beliefs on everyone else.
— Elizabeth Quinn-nolistsplease (@julepandme) July 28, 2022
There’s something about Alito, and Thomas, appearing like they’re out for vengeance. It’s like they’re both so bodied up with anger and resentment that it translates into their rulings. Just look at how upset Alito is over comments by other world leaders.
— David 🌐 (@DavidDinar) July 28, 2022