November 22, 2005

Alito and the Free Exercise Clause.

Emily Bazelon has a piece in Slate about what Samuel Alito has written about religious freedom. She starts off by linking to my NYT op-ed noting that his take on the Free Exercise Clause sets him apart from Justice Scalia, who has embraced a narrow interpretation. Well, she half-links to it, in that it's behind a pay-wall now, but I preserved a permanent link, and you can read it free here.

Bazelon writes:
Alito's religious-liberty opinions are mechanistic applications of precedent. They reveal little about the stance he'd take toward religious liberty as a justice of the Supreme Court.
This is incorrect. Judge Alito pushed the envelope in two cases. In two cases -- which Bazelon details -- he took the doctrine, which says that neutral, generally applicable laws do not violate Free Exercise and was unusually quick to see nonneutrality, which causes the standard to become strict scrutiny. This, in fact, is very revealing. It shows a judge chafing against the doctrine he's forced to follow!

4 comments:

brylin said...

Emily Bazelon, the 2003 Soros Justice Media Fellow?

Like in George Soros?

Can anyone guess where Emily is on the political spectrum?

jeff said...

If so, I'd be happy that she remain clueless just a while longer...

SamuelAlito said...

Part of the reason I found for the guys with the beards is that when I chafe against precedent, it hurts my beard too.

I think people get confused by these cases because they are caught in an outdated dichotomy, that free expression is a "liberal" idea, and that religious fundamentalists are "conservatives." It makes people awkward and confused to contemplate the free expression of religious fundamentalism.

The Right Honorable Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
(the A stands for Awesome)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Isn't "free" exercise what leads to "chafing" in the first place?