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Alito isn't done whining about the unpopularity of anti-LGBTQ+ views

The problem isn't just that Justice Alito whined about how unpopular anti-LGBTQ+ views are. He also keeps whining about their unpopularity.


It was hardly the most high-profile case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, but Missouri Department of Corrections v. Jean Finney ended up serving as an unexpected vehicle for one justice’s political commentary. As my MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin explained:

[The case involved] Jean Finney, a lesbian who sued her employer under state law barring sex discrimination. At trial, her lawyer asked prospective jurors whether they thought that homosexuals shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else. Potential jurors were dismissed when they cited a religious belief that homosexuality is a sin.

This seemed pretty straightforward. Finney’s lawyer understandably believed that those who had a problem with same-sex relationships would necessarily be skeptical of the plaintiff’s case. Lawyers for the Missouri Department of Corrections objected, saying this amounted to discrimination against those who appeared likely to discriminate.

The trial judge sided with Finney’s attorney, and the case proceeded, but the dispute generated a separate legal question about the dismissal of the would-be jurors.

A Missouri appeals court upheld the lower court’s verdict and the state Supreme Court passed on the case. The Missouri attorney general’s office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, and this week, the justices turned down the appeal.

But while that effectively brought the matter to a close, Justice Samuel Alito took the opportunity to complain for a while. In a five-page statement, the unabashed conservative agreed with the legal outcome on procedural grounds, but Alito felt compelled to add some additional commentary of his own.

As far as the justice was concerned, it was problematic that jurors were excluded based on their “traditional religious views on questions of sexual morality.”

Alito added, “That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges, namely that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.”

Obergefell, of course, was the landmark 2015 ruling that brought marriage equality to the United States. Alito was among the four dissenters in the case — and he’s apparently still worked up about it.

At face value, the far-right justice’s complaints are, for lack of a better word, unfortunate. He seems to realize that anti-LGBTQ+ views are unpopular and socially unacceptable across much of the country, and it apparently bothers him that those who cling to such beliefs might feel put upon.

But let’s not brush past the fact that Alito’s rhetoric seemed awfully familiar.

In fact, the same justice delivered prepared remarks to the Federalist Society in November 2020, when he used eerily similar phrasing about the same issue.

“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman” anymore, Alito whined, as if he were a social conservative candidate appealing for votes. “Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.”

In other words, the problem is not just that Alito whined about how unpopular anti-LGBTQ+ views are. The problem is also that Alito keeps whining how unpopular anti-LGBTQ+ views are.