Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last night mocked Prince Harry for wading into domestic US politics during his first public remarks since the decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Alito, one of the conservative judges on the bench, was speaking at the University of Notre Dame Law School in Rome last week. He roasted the foreign leaders who weighed on the SCOTUS decision, and joked that it was Harry’s disapproval which ‘wounded’ him most. ‘I had the honor this term of writing I think the only Supreme Court decision in the history of the institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law.’One of these was former PM Boris Johnson, but he paid the price. Others are still in office, President Macron and PM Trudeau are two.
‘But what really wounded me was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the UN and seemed to compare the decision – whose name may not be spoken – with the Russian attack on Ukraine,’ he said, prompting laughs from the audience. Alito added: ‘Well, despite this temptation I am not going to talk about cases from other countries. ‘All I am going to say is ultimately, if we are going to win the battle to protect religious freedom in an increasingly secular society we will need more than positive law.’ Alito has served on the Supreme Court since 2006 after being appointed by former President George W. Bush. He previously wrote a dissenting opinion which suggested a woman ought to be legally obliged to tell a baby’s father before she sought an abortion. He has largely used his position on the bench to fight for religious rights.
The Duke of Sussex’s spoke to the general assembly of the UN on July 18 for Nelson Mandela Day, where Harry waded into US politics while describing a ‘global assault on democracy and freedom.’He added: ‘And from the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional right in the US we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom, the cores of Mandela’s life.’ The comment was a clear dig at the decision to overturn Roe, which guaranteed women across the US the right to abortion.Conservatives hit out at the Prince, with assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College saying: ‘If you owe everything you have in life to the title of nobility that was bestowed on you at birth, you should feel free not to lecture anyone about democracy and freedom.’
Republican Nick Freitas said: ‘Last I checked, we fought a revolution so we wouldn’t have to care what Prince Harry thinks.’TV personality Meghan McCain added: ‘Today was a missed opportunity to keep the focus on one of the truly great global leaders of all time, Nelson Mandela.’Numerous prominent world leaders have also expressed dismay at the overturning of Roe v Wade, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Alito called out President Macron by name in his speech, but he reserved an extra quip for Prime Minister Johnson.’One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price,’ Alito joked, referring to Johnson’s plans to step down following criticism of his leadership from within Britain’s ruling Conservative Party.
Aside from those references to Roe’s foreign critics, Alito skirted the topic and focused instead on the conference’s theme of religious liberty.’Religious liberty is under attack in many places because it is dangerous to those who want to hold complete power,’ he said. ‘It also probably grows out of something dark and deep in the human DNA – a tendency to distrust and dislike people who are not like ourselves.’Alito was speaking in Rome, close to the colosseum where he recalled the history of of Christians being ‘torn apart by wild beasts’ and the palace where Roman Emperor Nero ‘used torches to light up Christians at his garden parties.’In the West, religious liberty is ‘facing a different challenge’ than countries in the rest of the world as more people in the US and Europe ‘turn away from religion’, he said.
Alito quoted polls where more people answered they identify as atheist or agnostic than ever before.
He said it is ‘hard to convince people of religious liberty if they don’t think religion is a good thing that deserves protection’.The challenge, Alito added, is to convince others that ‘religious liberty is worth special protection’ which he said ‘will not be easy to’ achieve.Alito said America should take pride in encouraging the UN to establish the universal declaration of human rights, emphasizing that the US should serve as an example to the rest of the world.‘Religious liberty has often fueled social reform’ he said, adding: ‘It is not an accident’ that the leaders who moved to abolish slavery were ‘very often men and women of faith.’Alito spoke of Martin Luther King Jr.’s role as a ‘reverend’ who ‘was able to speak to all American regardless of race’.
He also talked about the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of speech, asking: If this can be suppressed then ‘what is to stop the state from crushing other forms of expression?’Religious liberty is ‘so powerful’ it once helped bring down a powerful totalitarian state, he said, going on to speak about the fall of the Soviet Union. ‘During my lifetime the People’s Republic of China did its best to eradicate religion completely, and yet it failed, just like the Roman emperors who tried to outlaw Christianity failed,’ he concluded.’In China, there are now more Christians than there are in France or Germany. And if trends continue, the number of Christians in China may surpass those in the US.’Alito, a Roman Catholic, has been characterized as one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justices.
The conservative justice was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush in 2005. He began his service in 2006.In the July 18 UN address that prompted Alito’s response, Harry quoted statistics from freedom house showing the world had grown less free for more than a decade and a half. It is not the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have waded into American politics, finding themselves in hot water after commenting on the US election.During a Time 100 video in September 2020 they called on American voters to ‘reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity’ in ‘the most important election of our life.’Markle told activist Gloria Steinem in June she is willing to go to Washington DC to join protests against the abortion ruling and urged people to vote in the November midterms.Members of the royal family are supposed to be politically neutral, when they stepped back from their roles the Sussex’s vowed that ‘everything they do will uphold the values of Her Majesty’.
But Meghan and Harry recently hired Miranda Barbot, a former aide to former president Barack Obama who was central to his successful reelection campaign in 2012.Meghan’s political ambitions have long been talked about since she and Harry emigrated from Britain including claims that she would ‘seriously consider’ running for president if her husband dropped his royal title.President Biden’s sister, Valerie, 76, recently invited the duchess to join the Democratic Party and said she would ‘of course’ make a good presidential candidate.’I think that she does see her future as possibly a congresswoman for California,’ said Tom Bower, the author of a new book on Meghan and Harry, in an interview with Daily Mail Royals.He added: ‘Her problem is twofold. One is that it is very badly paid, and Meghan needs a lot of money to live, the second is that you’ve got to be pretty tough in a political fight. You are up against a lot of competitors.’
He also alleged that Meghan had become a close mentor to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who allegedly arranged philanthropic ventures for the couple. The couple spectacularly quit the royal family in January 2020, a seismic event for the British monarchy that some comedians dubbed ‘Megxit’.They now live in a $13million mansion in Montecito, California, after striking deals worth tens of millions to produce content for Netflix and Spotify.A Netflix documentary about the Sussexes is set to be broadcast later this year, while a tell-all autobiography by Harry is due this fall.The couple are parents to a three year-old son called Archie and an 13 month-old daughter called Lilibet.