As horror stories abound of the impact his Dobbs ruling is having on pregnant people across the United States, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito used his keynote address Thursday at Notre Dame’s Religious Liberty Summit in Rome to mock critics of the opinion, which ended constitutional protections for abortion and endangered a plethora of other rights.
“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 who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law,” Alito said in his first public address since the ruling, which was joined by the high court’s five other right-wing justices.
The audience laughed in response to Alito’s call-out of European officials and others who denounced the Supreme Court’s gutting of reproductive freedoms, which human rights experts have decried as a grievous violation of international law. In the wake of the June decision, pregnant people have been forced to carry and deliver nonviable fetuses, denied basic healthcare even in life-threatening situations, and forced to travel across state lines to obtain abortions.
His voice dripping with sarcasm, Alito went on to say that “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.”
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
The justice’s remarks—which can be watched in full on YouTube—drew outrage from observers in the United States, including members of Congress.
“Remember: it was Alito’s opinion that leaked,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) replied, referencing the draft decision that emerged weeks ahead of the high court’s formal ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The draft’s leak likely helped solidify support for Alito’s opinion among conservatives on the court, which for decades has exercised its unchecked power to erode constitutional rights. Now, with an entrenched right-wing supermajority immune from accountability, the court is ramping up its assault on fundamental freedoms.
“The Supreme Court is in a legitimacy crisis,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Chief Justice Roberts has a responsibility to share the progress and results of SCOTUS’ leak investigation.”
Susan Rinkunas, a senior reporter at Jezebel, wrote on Twitter that “Alito is out here making cute little jokes about the decision he authored that is forcing women to deliver dead fetuses and risk going septic from their incomplete miscarriages.”
“Truly disgusting behavior,” Rinkunas added.
Some commentators welcomed Alito’s public remarks insofar as they lay bare—as MSNBC‘s Mehdi Hasan put it—”that these people are right-wing political actors and aren’t even trying to hide it.”