Samuel Alito’s New Opinion Suggests He’s ‘Feeling the Heat’—Legal Analyst

Samuel Alito’s New Opinion Suggests He’s ‘Feeling the Heat’—Legal Analyst

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s new opinion on a gun law suggests he’s “feeling the heat,” legal analyst Harry Litman wrote on social media on Friday.

In a Friday 6-3 decision in the case Garland v. Cargill, the Supreme Court struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory that allows AR-15-style rifles to fire automatically.

Alito, who voted against the ban with the five other conservative justices on the Court, explained his decision in a concurring opinion: “There is simply no other way to read the statutory language.”

The conservative justice added: “There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns. Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

The bench’s three liberals, meanwhile, dissented.

Litman, a senior legal affairs columnist at the Los Angeles Times and a former deputy assistant attorney general, called Alito’s opinion “interesting” in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday.

Alito’s “basically saying the Vegas massacre was a tragedy but only Congress can correct. That’s the sort of ‘I feel your pain’/’don’t hate me’ opinion I associate w/ say [Conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh, not Alito. He may be feeling the heat,” he wrote.

Newsweek reached out to Litman’s podcast Talking Feds via online form for comment from the analyst and the Supreme Court via online form for comment from Alito.

Garland v. Cargill centered around a bump stock ban that was imposed after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, during which a gunman fired more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd of a country music festival in 11 minutes. Sixty people were killed, and hundreds more were injured.

Michael Cargill, a Texas gun shop owner, challenged the ban, arguing that the ATF had exceeded its authority when classifying bump stocks as machine guns.

Under the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the ATF said that bump stocks, which were invented in the early 2000s, did not transform semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. But it reversed its position at Trump’s urging in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting and another shooting in 2018 that left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

It is unclear what Litman thinks Alito could be “feeling the heat” for in his X post, but easy access to assault rifles has been a contested issue as gun violence, including mass shootings, plague America. There have been 7,625 gun deaths so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun incidents in the United States. Of those gun deaths, 216 were caused by mass shootings.

Alito, meanwhile, has also faced some criticism recently in an unrelated incident from the days after the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

In May, The New York Times published a photo of an upside-down American flag that was taken outside Alito’s Virginia home on January 17, 2021.

The inverted flag was flown 11 days after former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election win. The riot erupted following Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud, despite no evidence. Many Trump supporters displayed an upside-down American flag in the wake of his 2020 election loss as a sign of protest.

Justice Alito told the Times that he had “no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” saying his wife “briefly” put up the inverted flag “in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

There were calls for Alito to recuse himself from any cases involving Trump and the Capitol riot. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on Trump’s presidential immunity claim. Trump is facing four federal felony counts for his alleged actions surrounding the Capitol riot. He has pleaded not guilty and claims the case is politically motivated against him since he is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. In April, the Court heard arguments on a claim by Trump that he has immunity from prosecution because he was still in office during the riot.

Samuel Alito
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is seen on October 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Alito’s new opinion on a gun law suggests he’s “feeling the heat,” legal analyst Harry Litman said on social media on…

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