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The Life and Career of Alito, Government Lawyer and against woman's right to abortion

published June 12, 2006

( 26 votes, average: 4.6 out of 5)
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All but one Republican voted for Alito's nomination. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), who supports a woman's right to abortion, was the anomaly in his party. All Democrats voted against Alito's nomination, except for four senators: Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Tim Johnson (South Dakota), and Kent Conrad (North Dakota).

Alito attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. Afterwards, he worked as a government lawyer in Washington and New Jersey. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush elevated Alito to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There, he was viewed as the most conservative member of the Philadelphia-based court.

Alito replaced the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor. Since her induction in 1981, O'Connor was considered a swing justice who, depending on the issue, was either liberal or conservative. However, it was O'Connor's pivotal vote on several 5-4 rulings that upheld abortion rights, maintained affirmative action, and limited the application of the death penalty. With Alito's replacement of O'Connor, many speculate that the Supreme Court will tilt to the conservative right.

Alito's history shows that he is against a woman's right to abortion. In 2000, Alito agreed with the majority in striking down a New Jersey law that banned late-term abortions. Furthermore, in 1991, Alito dissented with the majority in striking down a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they plan on getting an abortion.

Alito argued that many potential reasons for an abortion, such as "economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition…may be obviated by discussion prior to abortion."

The Supreme Court later rejected Alito's view, reaffirming Roe v. Wade.

Troy Newman, president of anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, said of Alito's Supreme Court victory, "Abortion lost today." Many other pro-choice groups feel similarly.

In 1997's Bray v. Marriott Hotels, Alito took a lenient position towards race-based discrimination. He dissented from a decision that favored a Marriott Hotel manager who claimed to have borne the brunt of racial discrimination.

The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by "immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer's belief that it had selected the 'best' candidate was the result of conscious racial bias."

In 1991's Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, Alito took a position that allowed disability-based discrimination. His judging was so restrictive that blogspot Think Progress says, "Few if any Rehabilitation Act cases would survive summary judgment." As a result, most disability-based discrimination cases would simply get rejected from court.

In his judging of 2004's Doe v. Groody, Alito supported unauthorized strip searches. He asserted that police officers did not violate constitutional rights when they stripped and searched a mother and her 10-year-old daughter while carrying a search warrant that solely authorized the search of a man and his house.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, thinks that Alito's history of conservative rulings will continue in his Supreme Court decisions. Sekulow said, "We know that the conservative judicial philosophy that Judge Alito embraced as a federal appeals court judge for 15 years will serve as the cornerstone of his tenure on the high court."

Alito has often been compared to Justice Antonin Scalia. Both of them share a conservative judicial philosophy, an Italian-American background, and Catholic roots.

However, several legal scholars consider Alito to be more like Chief Justice John Roberts. Although both of them harbor a conservative philosophy, many analysts do not consider them rigid in their rulings. Analysts think that Alito has exercised strong consensus-building skills that could be invaluable in a divided Supreme Court.

Pepperdine law Professor Douglas Kmiec was pleased at Alito's victory, saying, "I think Sam is a standout because he's a judge's judge. He approaches cases with impartiality and open-mindedness."

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) is also optimistic about Alito's presence on the Court. He said, "One thing about lifetime appointees is they always surprise you a little bit."

Perhaps Alito will be similar to Earl Warren and William J. Brennan, Jr. During his presidency, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Warren and Brennan in hopes of tilting the Supreme Court towards the conservative right. Surprisingly, Warren and Brennan proved themselves to be two of the more celebrated Justices during their tenures, authoring some of the Court's most path-breaking opinions.

Not everybody felt as optimistic about Alito's victory, though. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said, "With two appointments, the president has made a dramatic imprint on the court. Filling the swing vote on the court with Sam Alito, I'm afraid, is going to tip the scales of justice to the right for a long time."

In any case, Alito is only 55, which means that he could possibly be in the Supreme Court for decades. He is the second relatively young conservative to become a Court Justice in recent months. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who is 51, replaced William H. Rehnquist last fall.
( 26 votes, average: 4.6 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.