U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito quoted UMass Law Professor Dwight Duncan’s amicus brief in an address at the Federalist Society’s 2020 National Lawyer Convention. In Justice Alito’s address, he recognized the work of Professor Duncan and Colbe Mazzarella in their Brief of Amici Curiae on Residents and Families of Residents at Homes of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Support of Petitioners. Professor Duncan, who teaches Constitutional Law at UMass Law, was previously quoted in Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion of the U.S Supreme Court issued last July, in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania.
In his speech, Justice Alito discussed religious liberties as a disfavored right when he cited the case of Little Sisters. Justice Alito quoted Duncan, “Here are some of the testimonials filed in our Court by residents of their homes. Carl Berquist: The Little Sisters ‘do everything to make us happy. I feel I’m part of the family and that’s a great feeling. They will keep you alive ten years longer than anyplace else because they love you.’ Carol Hassell: ‘In a nutshell I would say this about the Little Sisters: a little bit of heaven fell from…the sky one day and landed in my apartment.’” (at minute 28:44).
The Little Sisters case decided 7-2 that an HHS regulation, which exempted the Little Sisters of the Poor and others with religious or moral conscientious objections from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, was legally valid. This matter had been in litigation for more than five years, and Duncan had filed an amicus brief on behalf of residents and families of residences at Little Sister homes, both at the certiorari phase, and on the merits.