Justice Samuel Alito Delivers Series of Highly Alarming Partisan Remarks; Racism Impairs Brain Performance, and More

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivers an alarming series of homophobic, partisan remarks.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rarely makes public appearances, but when he does he apparently wants to make them count, being as irksome and controversial as possible — and completely disregarding the usual ethics required of judges to remain impartial and avoid any appearance of bias. That appears to be the case for Alito based on a speech he gave the evening of Nov. 12 for the conservative Federalist Society. Broadcasted via streaming video, some of the right-wing, grievance-packed comments he delivered that night (which have been covered by The American Independent, CNN, Slate, NPR and many others were) include: 

  • An attack on COVID-19 lockdown policies, calling them “sweeping” and “previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty” that have served as a “constitutional stress test” by an “elite group of appointed experts” and have “highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck.”
  • A particularly fired-up retort about a ruling from the Supreme Court in July that rejected a Nevada church’s challenge to state restrictions on attendance at religious services. (In the state’s policy, casinos were limited to 50% of their fire-code capacity while churches were given a flat 50-person limit). “Deciding whether to allow this disparate treatment should not have been a very tough call,” Justice Alito said. “Take a quick look at the Constitution. You will see the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty. You will not find a craps clause, or a blackjack clause, or a slot machine clause.”
  • His lament on the nation’s ability to no longer be blatantly homophobic, stating “You can’t say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.” Alito referenced the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and suggested a gay couple that sought a wedding cake from a baker who opposed same-sex marriage had nothing to complain about because they got a free cake from another baker and “celebrity chefs have jumped to the couple’s defense.” Alito then postulated that “Tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply at many law schools and in the broader academic community.”
  • His antipathy toward what he sees as an ongoing assault on free speech. Referencing comedian George Carlin’s list of the “seven dirty words” you couldn’t say on TV in the 1970s, Alito complained: “Today you can see shows on your TV screen in which the dialogue appears at times to consist almost entirely of those words.” He then added, “But it would be easy to put together a new list called ‘things you can’t say if you are a student or a professor at a college or university or an employee of many big corporations.’ And there wouldn’t be just seven items on that list. Seventy times seven would be closer to the mark.” 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is one of many who immediately came out against the speech, denouncing it via Twitter as a “nakedly partisan” address. Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a nonprofit group that has called for stricter ethics rules for the Supreme Court, also added that “Justice Alito’s speech Thursday was more befitting a Trump rally than a legal society.”


Effects of racism impair brain performance, new study warns.

Researchers have long known that racism can negatively impact a person’s health. In a review of studies on the subject, scientists have repeatedly found that discrimination can increase the risk of anxiety and depression, raising stress levels and lowering a person’s quality of life. And now, new research conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder warned that racism can also impair the brain’s ability to perform at its peak. In the study, which was reported on by Ivanhoe Newswire, a group of 40 Mexican American students were shown a stigmatizing, racist video and then asked to complete a test with a monetary prize. According to the study’s authors, exposure to the video significantly altered the performance of a part of the brain called the subcortical nucleus accumbens, making it much harder for the individuals being tested to perform well on the test. The study’s author, Wendy DuBow, Ph.D., said this is just another negative impact of racism on men and women who are subjected to it, “[making] people feel really hopeless and fatigued and like they’re constantly fighting an uphill battle just to be themselves.” 


Virginia Military Institute appoints first Black leader in its 181-year history.

After years of reports of staffing bigotry and racism on campus and a growing push for change and reform throughout 2020, the venerable public military college known as Virginia Military Institute has appointed its first Black superintendent, The Washington Post has reported. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, who graduated from VMI in 1985, will become interim superintendent of the country’s oldest state-funded military college until a permanent chief is named sometime in summer 2021. In addition to reports of racially hostile classroom environments and widespread racist insults and jokes towards Black students, VMI has also come under fire recently for its continued support of confederate symbols, only deciding to remove a controversial statue of Stonewall Jackson from the campus on Oct. 29. “We remain committed to a challenging but equitable experience for all,” Wins wrote in an email to school alumni following the announcement of his new position. “It is my commitment to you,” he promised, “that we will change what is necessary and safeguard what is necessary to preserve.”


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New York Times



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