But he was a bit puzzled by the audience’s last question from a crowd in Antonin Scalia School of Law At George Mason University: Are he and the other judges in a place where they can have a good meal together?
“I think it would be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, are you all OK in these very difficult times?” asked the questioner.
The fact that Alito was speaking across a closed circuit from a room in the Supreme Court seven miles away, and not in person, was a sign that these times are not normal.
“That’s a topic I told myself I wouldn’t talk about today in relation to, you know – under all circumstances,” Alito replied.
After a pause, he added, “The court now, we’ve had our conference this morning, we’re doing our job. We’re dealing with new cases, we’re heading toward the end of term, and it’s always a hectic time as we come up with our opinions.”
The court met on Thursday for the first time since draft opinion It was disclosed to Politico and the Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., has opened an investigation into the leak.
After detailing the timetable for getting the court’s work done by the end of June or early July, Alito went over the usual model that judges tend to employ about disagreeing about the law while still maintaining respect and friendliness.
Instead, conclude: “This is where we are now.”
The disclosure of the draft opinion came, indicating that at least five members of the court had initially voted at least to invalidate it. Roguarantee the right to miscarriageThe court that boasts of private deliberations shook. Protesters demonstrated at Alito’s home, not far from the George Mason campus, and were in place outside Thursday’s ticket-packed event, the fourth annual Scalia Forum.
As attendees advanced to the law school event, nearly two dozen protesters on both sides of the abortion issue chanted slogans outside the campus plaza near the law school building in Arlington, Virginia.
“Hey, huh, Alito should go! Hey, huh we should defend Rou!”
The group was largely George Mason students who had skipped studying for their final exams to pretend.
“I had one last game last night and I have a final tomorrow,” said Adam Rizzoli, a 19-year-old first-year student from Vienna, Virginia. But, he added, some things are more important than an individual’s GPA. “Sometimes you just have to act.”
Many students traveled from the university’s main campus in Fairfax to denounce the school’s decision to host Alito and express their support for abortion rights.
“As a Mason student, upholding justice that upholds old constitutional interpretations at the expense of women everywhere feels like a slap in the face,” said Emily Williams, 21.
One group of five anti-abortionists gathered about 30 feet from the other group. Kristen Gomez, 20, a sophomore at Northern Virginia Community College and a member of Students for Life in America, yelled over a megaphone, briefly blocking the original group’s voices.
“Abortion is violence! Abortion is persecution!”
Gomez, who studies psychology, said she wanted to come to the George Mason University campus to make sure her side of the abortion debate was heard.
Alyssa Thuburn, a student studying criminal justice at Liberty University, echoed Gomez’s echo.
“People think we hate women, and some people say we’re against birth control,” Thuburn said. “We just want people to have the right to life.”
Alito’s topic centered on how Scalia, who died in 2016, changed the court’s methods of reviewing federal laws, focusing more on the letter of the law rather than the intent of Congress. It’s a method he prefers, Alito said, but it was used incorrectly in the gay rights issue, Bostock vs Clayton County.
In this case, Court ruled 6 to 3 that a federal civil rights law dating back to the 1960s protects gay and transgender people, a watershed ruling on LGBT rights written by one of the court’s more conservative justices, Neil M.
Gorsuch and Roberts joined the court’s liberals in to rule. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex,” includes gay and transgender employees.
Alito said Gorsuch is a “colleague and friend,” someone he’s glad to have on court. But he said the decision to rely on the letter of the law alone was “in my view untenable”.
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 would understand gender discrimination to mean discrimination based on sexual orientation, let alone gender identity,” Alito said. “If the seventh title was understood at that time to mean what Bostock It means that the ban on gender discrimination will never be enacted. In fact, you probably didn’t get a single vote in Congress.”
He said the majority cited an opinion written by Scalia to justify their decision, but he thought he misunderstood it.
“I wish Nino was here to enlighten us,” Alito said. If Scalia had said Alito was wrong, “I would have accepted that assessment with humor, and learned from the exchange,” Justice said.
Nicole Asprey and Susan Sveroga contributed to this report.