The Supreme Court’s Alito says the abortion bill has led to a “target” of justice

The Supreme Court’s Alito says the abortion bill has led to a “target” of justice

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Tuesday slammed the ongoing debate over the institution’s legitimacy amid backlash over its abortion ruling last June, saying such criticism focused on “character” rather than the court’s rulings.

Alito, speaking at an event organized by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, also condemned the leak of his draft opinion last May overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, saying it made justices “targets.” .

Justice, who authored the ruling that formally overturned Roe in June, made the comments amid intense scrutiny of the court since the abortion decision, as well as others led by the court’s conservative majority that has expanded gun rights and limited the government’s power to crack down with climate change.

The legitimacy of the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, depends largely on its public acceptance as an institution whose actions are based on the law and not on the political preferences of judges. Polls show that the court’s approval has reached a record low.

Alito did not appoint liberal Justice Elena Kagan, but she has repeatedly expressed concern in recent weeks, including in September at an event in Chicago when she said the court’s legitimacy could be threatened if Americans began to view its members as trying to impose personal preferences on society. She repeated those comments in a debate at the University of Pennsylvania last week.

Anyone is free to strongly criticize the court’s decisions or the reasoning behind them, Alito said. “But to say the court shows a lack of integrity is something else entirely. That’s about character, not disagreement with the result or reasoning.”

Alito added: “Someone also crosses an important line when they say the court is behaving in a way that is illegitimate. I don’t think anyone in a position of authority should make that claim lightly.”

In blunt terms, Alito also commented on a man who was charged with attempted murder after he was arrested in June near the home of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Maryland.

Alito said the leak of his draft opinion made conservative justices who at the time were considered to support overturning Roe v. Wade “a target for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent it from happening by killing one of us.”

The conservative majority has shown an increasing willingness to tackle divisive issues while steering the court down the right path.

The court’s new mandate, which began on October 3, promises to be just as consequential. The potential rulings in the major cases could end affirmative action policies used by colleges and universities to increase racial diversity on campus, interfere with a federal law called the Voting Rights Act and make it easier for businesses to refuse service to LGBT people based on their free speech rights.

Joe Biden’s recent appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in the court’s liberal bloc.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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