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It appears that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a bona fide conservative, is just as frustrated with fellow Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh as former President Donald Trump.
According to reports, after Barrett and Kavanaugh joined Democrats and ostensible conservative Chief Justice John Roberts last Thursday in voting to keep Obamacare intact and to avoid a sweeping ruling on religious liberty, Alito was “pissed.”
“I think Alito was just pissed. He was frustrated,” South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman said to Politico.
He added that despite the justices’ ostensible ideological classifications (six conservatives, three liberals), these days it seems like “you have a three-three-three court” instead.
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are the liberal justices. Justices Barrett, Kavanaugh and Roberts are the conservative-light justices. And Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas are the conservative justices.
Last Thursday, Barrett, Kavanaugh and Roberts joined the liberal justices in voting to preserve Obamacare, much to the annoyance of Trump. In an interview earlier this week, he said he was “very disappointed” by their recent rulings.
“I fought very hard for them, but I was very disappointed with a number of their rulings,” he said.
‘I fought very hard for them’: Trump ‘very disappointed’ with SCOTUS Justices Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett https://t.co/TZwzjN1QAO
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) June 23, 2021
Besides voting to preserve Obamacare, the two also voted earlier this year to not hear a challenge to the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania. Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch, the conservative justices, did support hearing it.
In the Obamacare ruling last week, Alito penned a blistering dissent.
“No one can fail to be impressed by the lengths to which this Court has been willing to go to defend the ACA against all threats. So a tax that does not tax is allowed to stand and support one of the biggest Government programs in our Nation’s history. Fans of judicial inventiveness will applaud once again,” he sarcastically wrote.
Alito was reportedly equally “pissed” over Barrett, Kavanaugh and Roberts joining with Democrats to issue a lightweight ruling on religious liberty in a case involving “a Catholic group refusing to vet same-sex couples as foster parents in Philadelphia.”
While the ruling was in the Catholic group’s favor, Alito had wanted it to be much more sweeping.
“After receiving more than 2,500 pages of briefing and after more than a half-year of post-argument cogitation, the Court has emitted a wisp of a decision that leaves religious liberty in a confused and vulnerable state,” he wrote in another blistering dissent.
“Those who count on this Court to stand up for the First Amendment have every right to be disappointed—as am I,” he added.
According to University of Illinois Chicago law professor Steve Schwinn, the ferociousness of his dissent was “striking, even shocking.”
“We’ve heard this kind of aggressive, even hostile, rhetoric from him before. But this particular opinion takes it to a new level,” he said in a statement to The Hill.
Indeed, Politico notes that “what unfolded Thursday at the court was … like a tag-team wrestling event, with Justice Neil Gorsuch repeating much of Alito’s criticism and the court’s newest conservative justices — Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh — coming to Roberts’ defense.”
Roberts was the one most responsible for both rulings. In the Obamacare case, he chose to have the court vote on whether the states and individuals who’d sued over Obamacare had standing, versus having the court vote on the constitutionality of Obamacare.
This is one of many instances in which Roberts has saved Obamacare from otherwise fated doom. It’s also one of many instances of him taking a liberal position on the country’s most contentious issues.
Joe diGenova, Dobbs rip Justice Roberts for ‘pure sophistry’ after census ruling, question his conservatism https://t.co/eTfQWKRz9b
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 28, 2019
In the Catholic case, he authored an opinion “finding very narrow grounds to strike down Philadelphia’s ban on Catholic Social Services due to its policy against vetting same-sex couples for foster care,” according to Politico.
Alito found fault with it because the ruling was so specific that it can’t be used as precedent for other related cases.
“This decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops,” he reportedly wrote in his dissent.
Gorsuch appeared to be just as “pissed.”
“Perhaps our colleagues believe today’s circuitous path will at least steer the Court around the controversial subject matter and avoid ‘picking a side,” he wrote in the Catholic case.
“Dodging the question today guarantees it will recur tomorrow. These cases will keep coming until the Court musters the fortitude to supply an answer. Respectfully, it should have done so today,” he added.
And it would have been done had Trump’s other two picks — Barrett and Kavanaugh — acted in the interests of conservatives for a change.
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