Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito slammed foreign leaders who attacked the Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Speaking at the University of Notre Dame’s Religious Liberty Summit last week, Justice Alito fired back at a number of foreign leaders who criticized the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and restored power to the states to legislate the issue of abortion. Alito poked fun at some of them, including ousted former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Prince Harry, who gave an impassioned lament at the United Nations comparing Dobbs to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Alito prefaced his comments by talking about a crisis of shrinking freedom of religious speech from foreign courts, which he intended to criticize. “I think we can see this sort of narrowing, particularly in the area of religious speech in the jurisprudence of some countries that profess to be dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience,” Alito said. “Now when I was putting these remarks together, I was tempted at this point to provide some examples. I am not a diplomat … I wouldn’t be very bad about it, but it was unusual for me, this sort of diplomatic impulse came upon me, and I said to myself, ‘you’re an American judge, and what business is it of yours to criticize decisions that are handed down by foreign courts?’”
Alito then said that he was perfectly within his rights to criticize because of the criticism he received over the Dobbs decision.
“I’ve had some second thoughts over the last few weeks, since I had the honor this [Supreme Court] term of writing 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,” he said, eliciting a few laughs from the audience. “One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But he paid the price,” Alito said, as the audience broke into laughter and applause. “Post hoc ergo propter hoc, right?” Alito joked.
“But others are still in office,” he continued. “[French] President [Emmanuel] Macron, and [Canadian] Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, I believe, are two. But 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, however, took the high road. “Well, despite this temptation, I’m not gonna talk about cases from other countries,” he said. “All I’m gonna say is that, 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.”
Johnson, Macron, Trudeau, and other foreign leaders criticized the United States after the Dobbs decision was released. Johnson called the move a “big step backward.”
“I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose, and I stick to that view,” Johnson said. “And that’s why the U.K. has the laws that it does.” Johnson was forced to resign in July over allegations that he held parties during the COVID lockdowns.
At a speech to the United Nations in July, Prince Harry called the Dobbs decision part of a “a global assault on democracy and freedom.”