By Victor Ochieng
America is stepping into a period in which her commitment to religious freedom is being seriously tested, said Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito during a Wednesday event sponsored by a Catholic Lawyers’ organization.
Alito referred to the words he used during his dissent to the Supreme Court decision on same-s*x marriage, telling the meeting that he’d foresaw that his opposition to the court’s decision would be used by the ruling’s proponents to “vilify those who disagree and treat them as bigots.”
He said, “We are seeing this is coming to pass,” using Bob Dylan’s song lyrics to break it down, saying, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
Alito pointed out that there is a wind gaining momentum against those who hold traditional moral beliefs on different issues.
The speech was sanctioned by Advocati Christi, an organization of Catholic lawyers and judges who strive to “provide an opportunity for lawyers to learn about the Catholic faith and Catholic social teaching and to help them integrate these into their life and practice.”
Alito has been a Supreme Court judge for about a decade, having assumed a slot on the U.S. highest court in 2006.
In a speech that lasted 45 minutes or thereabout, Alito highlighted American Founding Fathers, 19th century French author Alexis De Tocqueville and Dylan, as well as the 1960s television sitcom “The Flying Nun,” also narrating how he stayed up until late in the night to watch as John F. Kennedy was elected the first ever Roman Catholic church president of the United States in 1960.
“I felt it had lifted me up from the status of second-class American,” he said.
Although U.S. courts and the Congress have always recognized religious freedom, people’s attitude on the issue is changing rather sluggishly. He mentioned a 2005 case in which a Democratic Party legislator opposed his nomination, claiming he’d make “too many Catholics on the court.”
Alito said that for the war to be won and for people’s attitudes to change, everyone must be involved and taught where necessary.
“We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls,” he said. “But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom.”