Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mocked prominent figures around the world, including Prince Harry and outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for speaking out against the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In what appeared to be his first public comments since the decision was handed down last month, Alito dismissed criticism from the British pair as well as from French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He was delivering the keynote speech at a conference on religious liberty in Rome last week that was hosted by the Notre Dame Law School. The speech was only posted online by the school on Thursday.
Alito, who authored the argument overturning the landmark ruling that enshrined the right to an abortion in the United States, condemned the global figures for weighing in on “American law.”
“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, prompting laughter from the crowd.
“One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price,” Alito joked, appearing to reference Johnson’s decision to step down as prime minister amid domestic scandals and widespread criticism of his leadership from within his own Conservative party.
“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 said, referring to Harry. Despite this temptation I am not going to talk about cases from other countries,” Alito added.
Harry described 2022 as a “painful year in a painful decade,” during a speech on July 18.
He said the world was “witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom,” pointing to the “horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of Constitutional rights here in the United States,” among other global events as examples.
Johnson, meanwhile, had criticized the decision as a “big step backwards.” A spokesperson for Johnson’s office said they did not have anything to add to the prime minister’s remarks.
They were far from alone, with Macron tweeting that abortion was “a fundamental right for all women” that “must be protected,” while Trudeau branded the decision “horrific,” saying: “No government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.”
Others, including global women’s health groups, also joined the criticism.
During his address in Rome last week, Alito said that “despite this temptation, I’m not going to talk about cases from other countries.”
“All I’m going to 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,” he said.
Alito also lauded U.S. efforts to protect religious liberty around the world, saying: “Religious liberty is an international problem, but I do think that we Americans can take special pride in our country’s contribution to the development of a global consensus at least on the level of international agreements in support of this fundamental right.”
“Religious liberty is under attack in many places because it is dangerous to those who want to hold complete power,” he said, adding: “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.”
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion as part of his administration’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Biden said the Supreme Court decision was “totally wrongheaded” and “extreme.”
“This was not a decision driven by the Constitution,” he said. “The court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.”