Big Problem: Alito, Thomas Think Reality of Gun Violence Shouldn’t Concern SCOTUS

Tim Libretti, PhD
4 min readJul 5, 2022
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While the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has come under increasing scrutiny — and earned mounting disapproval and mistrust — because of a host of recent rulings, the July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois should, sadly but hopefully, call into question not just any one of these specific rulings, but their approach and method to Constitutional law itself.

The concern I want to raise is with a more generalized and thoroughgoing approach of the Supreme Court to the law and the Constitution itself — to reading it, to interpreting it, and, most importantly, to understanding its relationship to serving the lives of Americans.

The approach I’m talking about is one of bad faith and one that is disarmingly anti-intellectual — in addition to being absolutely lethal for Americans, as the July 4th shooting in Highland Park makes clear, demonstrating SCOTUS’s supreme disregard for American lives.

To explain this point, let’s start with Justice Samuel Alito’s attack on Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent in the court’s recent ruling striking down New York’s concealed carry gun law, in which Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion made it much more difficult to regulate the possession of firearms going forward, according to Justice Stephen Breyer.

Alito expressed outrage in the concurrence he wrote supporting Thomas’ majority opinion, accusing Breyer of writing and arguing beyond the scope of the case in referencing the epidemic gun violence and killing in America.

“Much of the dissent seems designed to obscure the specific question that the Court has decided,” he wrote, continuing, “That is all we decide. Our holding decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm or the requirements that must be met to buy a gun.”

He excoriated Breyer’s dissent, writing “It is hard to see what legitimate purpose can possibly be served by most of the dissent’s lengthy introductory section.”

Most pointedly, he asks, “Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years?”

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Tim Libretti, PhD

Professor of Literature, Political Economy enthusiast, Dad, always thinking about the optimal world