One week ago conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered a speech in Rome on religious liberty that is being denounced from the left and the right as furthering the Court’s “credibility crisis” while further placing the 72-year-old Bush appointee’s judgment into question.
Alito delivered the keynote address at the University of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Summit gala dinner on July 21. The invitation-only speech at the event hosted by the 153-year-old Catholic institution was not announced in advance to the public, nor even made known until one week later, when the law school posted a news release and full video of the speech. The Supreme Court Justice was not on the schedule of speakers posted online, as Reuters’ Lawrence Hurley, who covers the Supreme Court, noted on social media.
While it’s unclear why the speech was kept secret, American media was quick to latch onto some of Alito’s remarks but did not do a deep dive into the 35 or so minute-long speech, which has raised eyebrows and elicited anger among legal experts, court watchers, and the general public.
CNN and Politico noted Alito lambasted several foreign critics of his majority opinion rescinding five decades of settled U.S. law in the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, revoking the constitutional right to abortion and opening the door to further assaults on liberty and autonomy.
His targets were not opinion writers or pundits, but political leaders of America’s top allies.
Alito mocked the embattled, now former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, robustly declaring, “he paid the price.”
Politico added that Alito “went on to note that President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada ‘are still in office’ despite the salvos they launched at the ruling.”
And he went after Britain’s Prince Harry, falsely characterizing the Duke’s remarks.
“What really wounded me was when the duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision whose name may not be spoken with the Russian attack on Ukraine,” Alito said. “Despite this temptation, I’m not going to talk about cases from other countries.”
In his Rome speech on religious liberty, Justice Alito mocked “foreign leaders” who condemned his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, including Boris Johnson, Macron, Trudeau, and … Prince Harry.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) July 28, 2022
And while mainstream media focused on some of the low-hanging fruit in his remarks, others who apparently watched his speech, posted by Notre Dame, expressed outrage at what they seem to see as his intolerance of freedom of and from religion, intolerance toward women, and mocking of those who dare criticize his attack on the right to abortion.
NYU professor Barbara Malmet, an artist, activist, triathlete, and producer who has a huge Twitter following, did not hold back in denouncing Alito’s remarks.
“Alito working the room, basking in the laughs. Bearded, in a tux, at a religious liberty speech in Rome. He thinks it’s a fucking joke that women no longer have agency over their own bodies in many states in America because of his own religious beliefs?” she tweeted.
Hours later she again commented, this time writing, “I am still spinning about Alito in Rome at a Notre Dame event, cracking jokes about his devastating abortion ruling while women are reeling here.”
Well-known economist David Rothschild, an avid commentator, attacked Alito and his audience: “Cannot get over mix of arrogance, entitlement, general derision towards American people & democracy that Republican Partisan Hack in Robes Alito showed in speech trashing foreign leaders in Rome to laughing audience of (what I can only assume) are also authoritarian misogynists.”
Novelist, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter Paul Rudnick: “Samuel Alito made a speech in Rome praising the repeal of Roe and condemning the left for a ‘hostility to religion.’ Alito uses his faith to punish women and he wants to not only ban marriage equality but criminalize LGBTQ lives. His religion is a weapon of mass destruction.”
Conservative attorney John David Dyche: “Regardless of one’s view on Dobbs it is hard to see how an arrogant & injudicious Alito ‘spiking the ball’ in political comments at a Notre Dame event in Rome will do anything but further erode public confidence in a court already diminished by a multi-faceted credibility crisis.”
Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett wrote: “This was Alito’s speech in Rome about ‘religious freedom.’ And it always boggles my mind that to these guys, religious freedom doesn’t apply to anyone but those in their own religion.”
Award-winning investigative reporter Paul Barry: “If Justice Alito wants to claim overturning Roe v Wade was based entirely on law, it’s maybe better not to do it at a conference on religious freedom in Rome.”
Veteran journalist Jim Roberts: “In a speech in Rome, the obviously shameless Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito jokes about the overseas reaction to the Roe v. Wade ruling that he authored.”
Other social media critics were equally angered.
“Who the hell is responsible for holding SCOTUS justices accountable, because there’s no way alito should be in Rome behaving like a GOP congressman.”
“What an undignified, crass, embarrassment to the country this smug, condescending seditionist is. Whoever imagined a (laughably ‘impartial’) SCOTUS Justice, out taking *political* shots at America’s allies? Absolutely unacceptable.”
“Wow! We’re not even pretending that the Supreme Court is not political. Alito is having a good old time in Rome mocking the loss of reproductive rights for US women.”
“Justice Samuel Alito is a dangerous clown who should be nowhere near our SCOTUS. Going to Rome to speak on ‘religious liberty’ as he wages a war on women, and then criticizes our allies?? WTF. He’s an embarrassment to the United States.”
“Christian Dominionism, anyone? With a side of gaslighting and projection, and snark as an aperitif.”
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‘Beyond Horrific’: Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Producer Is an Out Gay Man Helping ‘Ramp Up’ Hate Says LGBTQ Journalist
Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, whose nightly show frequently has the largest reach of any on cable news, regularly attacks the LGBTQ community with fear-mongering and hate-filled segments about gay people, transgender people, “groomers” and the latest target: “drag queen story hours.”
His senior executive producer, who oversees Carlson’s media empire at Fox News, is a married, out, gay man named Justin Wells, according to veteran journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, who is calling it “beyond horrific to think a gay man has helped to shape and widely disseminate a message of hate against LGBTQ people.”
Last week, in the wake of the horrific anti-LGBTQ hate crime mass shooting Carlson hosted a guest, the head of the so-called “Gays Against Groomers,” who told Fox News viewers the attack on LGBTQ people at a gay bar in Colorado Springs was “predictable” and warned that these hate crime massacres will continue, “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care.
Tucker Carlson guest: Shootings like the Club Q shooting are going to keep happening “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care. pic.twitter.com/4ajSonqlug
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 23, 2022
Carlson has repeatedly hosted Jaimee Mitchell, the Gays Against Groomers founder who fear mongers against LGBTQ people, with the apparent consent of Wells, who “helped promulgate the kind of hate that leads to violence,” says Signorile.
“It’s unlikely that any narrative would get broadcast by Tucker without significant buy-in from Justin,” Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of media watchdog Media Matters, told Signorile.
Indeed, referring to the Colorado Springs mass shooting massacre, Signorile noted it is “the same kind of nightclub at which Wells, in years past, danced the night away in Miami Beach and elsewhere, liberating himself from the world outside and surely never imagining he’d be shot dead.”
“Now he’s aided the extremists who deny that sense of safety and liberation to every future generation of queer people,” says Signorile, explaining that “Wells runs the entire Tucker Carlson operation, and is responsible for imprinting the Tucker Carlson brand, which is all about emboldening white heterosexual male grievance, furthering the racist conspiracy of ‘replacement theory’ and pushing an increasingly virulent anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
One of Carlson’s frequent LGBTQ targets is Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who he has called an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” as Mediaite reported.
“And as Carlson further pushed white nationalism, attacked transgender people and embraced Hungary’s authoritarian leader Victor Orban,” Signorile reports, “Wells, in 2021, was named a Vice President at Fox News, in charge of all Carlson product that airs on Fox News TV as well as on Fox’s streaming network, Fox Nation.”
Signorile says, “it’s quite stunning that Wells would work for Carlson, who has a well-known history of visceral homophobia. That’s something that came to light again last year when it became known that Carlson had offered a tribute to Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco supervisor and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, in his college yearbook back in 1991, as well as to the late vociferously anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who whipped up homophobia during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.”
“I wrote about those jarring revelations when they surfaced last year,” he continues, “as well as about what I dubbed Carlson’s ‘pathological obsession with homosexuality’ throughout his career. Carlson has expressed revulsion at homosexuality, and in one incident he reveled in a violent response. In a TV interview in 2007 he described having smashed a man’s head ‘against the stall’ in a public rest room, after the man ‘bothered’ him.”
“Wells, as a gay man, only emboldens Carlson further,” Signorile concludes. “He gives him permission to launch the ugly attacks and helps Carlson validate, for himself (and likely for executives at Fox News), the vitriol he espouses. That makes Justin Wells’ presence as the powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson all the more newsworthy. And all the more dangerous.”
Signorile notes that his reporting is not an outing.
“This story is not, however, about a warped closet case, tormented by self-loathing, hiding his true self while bashing those like him. And thus, this story is not an outing, which involves exposing someone who covers up their sexual orientation while publicly presenting as heterosexual — though it certainly may be a startling revelation to a great many. It is, rather, about connecting the dots regarding a reality that seems to have been hiding in plain sight.”
You can read Signorile’s entire report on his Substack newsletter.
Questions Swirl Around Herschel Walker as New Report Shows His Georgia Residence Was Rented Out for Over a Decade
Where Herschel Walker lives has been a question since before he officially announced his candidacy as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Numerous reports have looked into claims he lives in Texas and not the Peach State, which some Georgia voters might find problematic, but new reporting exposes what could lead to tax or voting fraud investigations.
Walker’s Georgia home, according to reporting from The Daily Beast‘s Roger Sollenberger, is owned by his wife, who for years has rented it out.
When Walker announced his candidacy, after a strong push from Donald Trump, it “was widely known at the time that the Republican hopeful had been living in Texas for decades, though he has claimed to maintain a residence in Atlanta for ’17 years.’ Less widely known, however, was that Walker’s wife collected tens of thousands of dollars in rental income for that residence, according to his 2021 financial disclosure forms.”
While it is unclear if the home was rented out when Walker officially launched his Senate run, the “house doubled as the Walker campaign’s first official address when he launched his bid in August 2021. Fulton County tax and property records show the home is solely owned by Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard, who also collected rental income from 2020 and 2021 ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, according to the disclosure—defining the asset as ‘Georgia residence.'”
CNN last week reported that “Republican Herschel Walker is getting a tax break intended only for a primary residence this year on his home in the Dallas, Texas, area, despite running for Senate in Georgia.”
“In Texas, homeowner regulations say you can only take the exemption on your ‘principal residence,'” CNN’s K-File reported. “Walker is listed to get a homestead tax exemption in Texas in 2022, saving the Senate candidate approximately $1,500 and potentially running afoul of both Texas tax rules and some Georgia rules on establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.”
Even after he launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate Walker still filed for the Texas tax exemption.
The complaint alleges “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony in August 2021 when he registered to vote in Georgia,” and “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony when he voted in the 2022 Georgia primary and general elections.” These are allegations and have not been investigated by authorities.
When he announced is candidacy, “Walker’s main GOP rival challenged him to ‘move here, pay taxes here, register and vote in some elections’ before running,” The Journal-Constitution notes. “Warnock’s allies have taken a similar line of attack, framing the Republican as an out-of-state charlatan.”
Trumps Latest Tactic? Attacking Special Counsel’s Sister-in-Law
Donald Trump is going all-in on attacks against the family of special counsel Jack Smith. Instead of mounting a defense for his actions, Trump deployed one of his top tactics: attacking anyone trying to hold him accountable.
One of Trump’s right-wing allies posted a claim that Smith’s sister-in-law, who is allegedly a psychologist and whose patients were “crying” and “sobbing” over Trump’s 2016 election.
“And I’m supposed to get a fair shake from this person, who’s under tremendous pressure from his family, but he is actually worse than they are?” Trump rambled on his personal social media site. “Can Republicans, and fair-minded people, generally, allow this to happen? Jack Smith is nothing less than a hit man for Obama, his Attorney General Eric Holder, and Andrew Weissmann. Weaponization. Our Country is in big trouble, a real mess!”
Smith was hired by Trump’s administration to serve as an acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee during Trump’s first year in office, his biography states. During this same time, the new Trump Justice Department was firing most of the U.S. Attorneys hired under President Barack Obama’s administration. One of those biggest names was Preet Bharara, who helped Trump with the transition while serving as the U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York. He was fired the same month that Trump hired Smith in 2017.
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