Opinion: Justice Alito’s Careless Comments on Prince Harry and Boris Johnson
He then told his audience of mostly friendly law professors on a vacation in Rome, “It is my honor to write this term, I think, the sole decision of the Supreme Court. in the history of that institution has been criticized by a whole host of foreign leaders who feel perfectly fine to comment on American law…”
No doubt emboldened by the scattered laughter and light applause inspired by Boris Johnson’s sniper shot, Alito then continued with a completely baseless comment. “But what really hurt me, what really hurt me, was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision, who may not be named, to the attack. of Russia into Ukraine.”
Alito’s comments about the Prime Minister and the Duke of Sussex do not sit well with any Supreme Court Justice speaking abroad or for that matter, even in the United States. Courts often refuse to rule on matters relating to foreign policy because the Constitution typically leaves these matters solely to the president, with occasional advice and consent from Congress. The Constitution makes no mention of itinerant Supreme Court Justices attacking foreign leaders who disagree with the court’s statements.
With his speech in Rome, Alito proved that he was not Antonin Scalia, whose wit and grace in public appearances impressed many, including those who disagreed. with his conservative politics.
A lot of Americans must have been surprised that Alito or any other Supreme Court justice would be allowed to comment publicly on a recent Supreme Court decision. The congressional televised hearings involving nominees appointed to the Supreme Court have taught Americans that they will always refuse or deflect direct answers regarding any any matter that may be brought before the court.
Many Americans were probably shocked to hear a Supreme Court judge give a public address of any kind. Although judges occasionally give public statements, they are usually very careful to avoid any discussion of issues related to pending or impending cases. . And abortion-related issues are always on the radar of federal courts across the country during their journey to the Supreme Court. The Dobbs v. Jackson case will not end litigation regarding the nuances of abortion-related laws across the country.
Public trust in the court does not require judges to avoid all speech, but it does require them to be reasonable and discreet on the topics of their choice. Alito demonstrated extremely poor judgment when discussing the Roe v. Wade abroad, even in jest, while abortion-related cases are pending in the United States. Discussions concerning this important issue by Supreme Court justices should take place in the open and public courtrooms of the United States rather than before a private group in the auditorium of a foreign country. .