Did Alito Take a Shot at Elizabeth Warren in Court?

Justice floats question about bogus claims to American Indian heritage
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2022 12:09 PM CDT
Alito Appears to Take Dig at Elizabeth Warren in Court
Associate Justice Samuel Alito.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Now that the dust has settled on hours of oral arguments Monday in two separate affirmative-action cases before the Supreme Court, a clear consensus has emerged in coverage. "The court's conservative majority signaled that it could be ready ... to end the use of race in college admissions," writes Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog. Howe's analysis runs through particular points of the six conservative justices and their three liberal counterparts, as do plenty of others that reach the same conclusion, including at the Hill, Slate, and Politico. Amid all the analyses, one exchange involving Samuel Alito is getting attention because he appears to have taken a dig at Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Alito posed a question to North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park, who was there to defend the University of North Carolina's affirmative action policies, on what would prevent a student from staking a claim to a false heritage, per Insider. The student might say, "It's family lore that we have an ancestor who was an American Indian," said Alito, or, "I identify as an American Indian because I've always been told that some ancestor back in the old days was an American Indian." Park acknowledged it would be unlikely in that case that the claim was valid.

Warren, of course, ran into controversy a few years ago because she identified herself as American Indian on various documents, only to publicly apologize for the claim in 2019. The Slate analysis found Alito's comments to be a "wholly gratuitous potshot" at Warren. The two have a history of friction. In 2020, after Alito made public comments critical of pandemic restrictions, Warren tweeted that "Supreme Court Justices aren't supposed to be political hacks," per the Hill. She called his speech "nakedly partisan" and said she intended to push for new ethics rules for the court's justices. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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