U.S. Justice Alito says pandemic has led to 'unimaginable' curbs on liberty

(Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to 'previously unimaginable' curbs on individual liberty, singling out restrictions on religious events. The justice, who is seen as a conservative, told a meeting of the Federalist Society late on Thursday he was not underplaying the severity of the crisis or criticizing any officials for their response.

Reuters November 14, 2020 00:12:55 IST
U.S. Justice Alito says pandemic has led to 'unimaginable' curbs on liberty

US Justice Alito says pandemic has led to unimaginable curbs on liberty

(Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to "previously unimaginable" curbs on individual liberty, singling out restrictions on religious events.

The justice, who is seen as a conservative, told a meeting of the Federalist Society late on Thursday he was not underplaying the severity of the crisis or criticizing any officials for their response.

But he added: "We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020."

"The COVID crisis has served as sort of a constitutional stress test," he said during his address over a video link for the conservative organization's annual conference https://bit.ly/2H21TvK.

Alito, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006, referred to restrictions on gatherings that had affected religious events.

"Think of worship services! Churches closed on Easter Sunday, synagogues closed for Passover in Yom Kippur", he said.

"It pains me to say this," Alito added, "but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right."

The justice said freedom of speech was also under threat.

"Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right," he said.

Alito's remarks on free speech echoed his words from 2016 at the same event when he referred to college campus culture that conservatives say stifles free speech to avoid offending political sensibilities on matters such as gender, race and religion.

Social norms had created a list of things that was now unacceptable for students, professors and employees to say, he added on Thursday.

"You can't say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman", he added. "Until very recently that's what a vast majority of Americans thought. Now its considered bigotry."

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry and Andrew Heavens)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Bolivia's socialists sweep back to power as Arce sworn in as President
World

Bolivia's socialists sweep back to power as Arce sworn in as President

By Daniel Ramos LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia's Luis Arce was sworn in as president on Sunday, ushering the country's powerful socialist party back into power a year after long-term leftist leader Evo Morales was ousted amid angry protests that sparked off a political crisis. Arce, 57, was inaugurated in a ceremony in the highland city of La Paz, in front of heads of state from Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Spain, as well as senior officials from Chile, Iran and the government of Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro. The unassuming and bespectacled former economy minister, feted as the architect of Bolivia's rapid growth under Morales, comes into office facing the huge task of healing the divisions of a political crisis and the coronavirus pandemic