Justice Alito is right: The pandemic brought an assault on our basic rights

New York Post—The usual mainstream-media suspects wasted no time in blasting as inappropriate Samuel Alito’s address last week to the Federalist ­Society. Which is another way of saying they didn’t like what he had to say. The Supreme Court justice warned that “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right,” that freedom of speech is also ­“becoming a second-tier constitutional right.”

He was exactly right — and his wake-up call was urgently timely: Democrats threaten to “reform” the high court by packing it with liberals, while the pandemic has imposed what Alito called a “stress test” on the Constitution, creating a new ranking order of fundamental rights.

Simply put: Basic respect for some rights is dying.

The justice made clear that he wasn’t “diminishing the severity of the virus’ threat to public health,” nor even “saying anything” about whether lockdown rules are “good public policy.” Even so, “the pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty” — and this happened “by executive fiat, rather than legislation.”

The unchecked growth of the administrative state and the rule of unaccountable “experts” long precede the appearance of the novel coronavirus. What we have experienced in the last nine months is a sweeping away of legal norms that deserves more than a passing glance, even in the midst of an emergency.

Alito pointed out that in ­Nevada, the courts had deferred to the judgment of the governor of that state about how to halt the spread of the virus. The result was a rule that allowed casinos to ­operate while severely restricting the right to attend a house of worship. We’re supposed to think that these kinds of arbitrary and illogical rules are kosher; anyone who notices that something is very wrong is… read more>

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