Samuel Alito: His nomination threatens individual rights, and he practices deception to hide his extreme views.

Alito threatens individual rights, and tries to hide his extreme views. Below we provide some key examples in three major areas where Alito would threaten individual rights that are sacred to Americans, followed by examples of Alito’s record of deception. This is a critical moment for America. The Supreme Court has been almost evenly divided on many important issues. Replacing the moderate views of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with extreme views of Judge Samuel Alito would destroy the balance on the Court. In many important cases where Justice O’Connor has protected our rights, Judge Alito’s record shows he would put those rights in serious jeopardy. Alito threatens individual rights. 1) Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Reproductive Choice Civil Liberties

“During his 15 years on the federal bench, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has worked quietly but resolutely to weave a conservative legal agenda into the fabric of the nation's laws… A review of Alito's work on dozens of cases that raised important social issues found that he rarely supports individual rights claims…In other areas, Alito often goes out of his way to narrow the scope of individual rights, sometimes reaching out to undo lower-court rulings that affirmed those rights.” – Knight Ridder, in a review of all 311 of Alito’s published opinions.29

In 2004 in the case of Doe v. Groody, Alito argued to authorize the strip search of a 10-year-old girl and her mother in their own home, without a warrant, although neither of them was suspected of any wrongdoing. He was outvoted and criticized by his fellow judges for his position. One of those judges was Michael Chertoff, who later became Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security.1

In 1974, Edward Garner, a 15-year-old African American boy was shot in the back and killed by the Memphis, Tennessee police while running away from a $10 robbery. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that stopping an unarmed juvenile suspect by shooting him in the back was unconstitutional. Alito, however, believed it should be lawful, and 10 years later he argued to the Reagan administration that they should intercede and appeal the ruling.2 Privacy While working in the Reagan administration, Alito argued that the Attorney General should be immune from charges if s/he illegally wiretaps conversations of American citizens without a warrant.3 This is especially disconcerting since he has been nominated by a President claims unlimited executive authority to spy on Americans. Reproductive Choice Alito’s judicial record and writings make it clear that he is opposed to a woman’s right to choose. In a 1985 job application, he described his pleasure at being able to advance “legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly,” that “I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent


cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court…that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”4 In another Reagan era memo, Alito sketched out his commitment to a long term strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, arguing that the government should approach pending cases by asking: What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?"5 As a judge, he continued this trend. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito’s fellow judges on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the most restrictive part of the law—the requirement for spousal notification in all cases—as unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Alito dissented, arguing for a standard that would have made it very hard to challenge any restrictions to abortion, thus undermining the results of Roe v. Wade. Alito’s position was later rejected by the Supreme Court,6 with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor casting the decisive 5th vote to overturn this law.7 2) Public Health and Safety, Workers’ Rights Alito poses a grave threat to the rights of workers and communities to basic safety and fair treatment. Workers’ Rights In cases where Alito personally wrote an opinion or a dissent that affected workers' rights, he sided against workers 16 times and with them only 4.8 In another famous case (Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development), Alito tried to undermine the Family and Medical Leave Act, ruling that state employees could not sue to protect their right to care for a seriously ill family member. This ruling was also based on Alito’s extremely limited view of Congressional authority to protect the public interest. His ruling was later overturned by the Supreme Court.9 Sandra Day O’Connor was part of the majority in the decision to overturn this ruling in the case of Nevada Dep’t of Human Resources v. Hibbs.10 In an effort to guarantee fair treatment for ordinary workers, the state of Pennsylvania passed a law that made corporate officers ultimately liable for unpaid wages and benefits their company owed to rank and file workers. In the case of Belcufine v. Aloe, Alito once again supported the interests of the powerful over the rights of ordinary Americans by ruling that the CEOs could abandon their debt to their workers once the corporation filed for bankruptcy.11 In RNS Health Services, INC. v. Secretary of Labor, a group of coal processing workers sued to address unsafe working conditions. Alito agreed that the safety violations were taking place, but tried to reject the workers' claims by narrowing the authority of the federal agency charged with protecting the safety of mine workers—a move that would have left many vulnerable workers without basic protections. He was overruled by his fellow judges.12 Public Health and Safety In one of Alito’s most significant cases, U.S. v. Rybar, he tried to strike down a law that restricted buying and selling machine guns, because he didn’t think the Constitution granted Congress the authority to pass such a regulation. Once again, he was overruled by his fellow judges. This case is extremely important, because the same arguments Alito used here (about limiting Congressional authority under the “commerce clause” of the Constitution), could also undermine a wide range of basic worker protections, environmental protections, and civil rights laws.13


While working in the Reagan administration, Alito once urged the president to veto legislation that would have protected consumers from crooked car dealers by making odometer fraud more difficult. His argument was that the federal government is not “charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.” President Reagan rejected this advice and signed the legislation.14 As the AFL-CIO concluded: “We are compelled to oppose [Alito’s] nomination to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. …Judge Alito’s decisions and dissents show a disturbing tendency to take an extremely narrow and restrictive view of laws passed by Congress to protect workers’ rights, resulting in workers being deprived of wage and hour, health and safety, anti-discrimination, pension and other important protections.”15 3) Civil Rights for Minorities, Women, and the Disabled Voting Rights Alito has written that his motivation to become a lawyer was largely due to his strong disagreement with the decisions made during the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren, especially the cases involving “reapportionment.” These 1960’s cases, most notably Baker v. Carr, are widely regarded as among the most important achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. The cases Alito objects to established the principle of “one man, one vote.” They abolished the practice of drawing legislative districts and municipalities so some votes counted more than others, or to purposely deny equal representation to minority populations.16 Alito has not had the opportunity to make any significant voting rights rulings on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, but on the Supreme Court he undoubtedly would. Anti-Discrimination Protections Alito’s nomination poses a grave threat to the rights of women, minorities, and the disabled to be protected against housing and employment discrimination. In one notable case (Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company), a jury had already agreed that Barbara Sheridan had been unfairly denied a promotion at a hotel based on gender, then forced from her job when she complained about the discrimination. Alito argued that no reasonable jury would find the woman’s evidence convincing, and argued to overturn the ruling. He was outvoted by his fellow judges 10 to 1.17 This compares to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the swing vote in the 2005 case of Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ. O’Connor wrote the opinion that ruled retaliation against those who complain about illegal sex discrimination was impermissible. 18 Alito has shown a particular hostility to African American plaintiffs, and in 15 years has almost always sided against them in discrimination cases—often trying to deny them the chance for a jury to even hear the facts of their case. For example, in Bray v. Marriot Hotels, he tried to deny a trial to Beryl Bray, a Marriott employee who was passed over for a promotion in favor of a white colleague despite her clear qualifications. Alito’s argument would have set the bar so high to prove discrimination that it would have blocked most cases from even going to trial to determine the facts. He was, once again, outvoted by his colleagues.19


Alito has also tried to make it far more difficult for the handicapped to obtain necessary workplace accommodations. In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, Alito argued that Jayne Nathanson did not deserve a trial to hear her claim that her school was not accommodating her back injuries. The majority criticized Judge Alito’s analysis and stated that “few if any Rehabilitation Act cases would survive summary judgment if such an analysis were applied to each handicapped individual’s request for accommodations.”20 As the NAACP concluded: The Legal Defense Fund has conducted a thorough review of Judge Alito’s legal and judicial record in a number of civil rights subject areas which are very important to us: federalism, affirmative action, employment discrimination, voting rights, criminal justice, and other race discrimination cases. The overwhelming majority of African-American litigants whose claims Judge Alito has adjudicated have lost his vote. We can predict with substantial certainty that Judge Alito will very likely vote in a manner that, given the current composition of the Court, will cause a substantial shift in the Court’s civil rights jurisprudence with devastating effects.21 Alito practices deception to hide his extreme views. Alito has repeatedly deceived Congress and the nation in an attempt to hide his extreme views and lapses in judicial ethics. Americans must be able to trust the Justices of the Supreme Court to tell the truth and to honor their ethical obligations. Here are some of Alito’s most worrisome deceptions: On constitutional beliefs about reproductive choice: In a 1985 job application to the Reagan administration, Alito wrote of his “strong personal belief” that the “Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”22 Last month, while talking to the pro-choice Senator Dianne Feinstein, he claimed that he only made that statement because he was a “partisan advocate,” “trying to get a job.”23 If he would deceive about a core constitutional question in order to obtain that job, what would he say to get confirmed to the Supreme Court? On judicial ethics: During the nomination process for his current post as a federal judge, Alito promised the Senate in writing that he would not rule on cases involving corporations in which he had a personal financial stake. He cited the Vanguard Corporation in which he had nearly $400,000 invested.24 But less than 5 years after winning confirmation with that promise, he ruled in favor of the Vanguard Corporation in a case that came before the 3rd Circuit. To explain this lapse, he has offered several explanations that strain credulity, including saying that he didn't recuse himself because a computer failed to remind him of his promise.25 His personal views on diversity and civil rights: When applying for a top job in the Reagan administration, Alito proudly touted his “active membership” in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, or CAP, a far right group that opposed the admission of women and wanted to reduce the admission of minorities to the university.26 The


group was so extreme that even fellow alumnus Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist called their views "distorted, narrow and hostile."27 Now Alito is publicly claiming that he “cannot recall” ever being a member of CAP.28


“Alito's remark on strip search of girl, 10, prompts questions,” Boston Globe, November 25, 2005 rl_10_prompts_questions/?page=full

“Shoot to Kill,” Slate, December 2, 20005


“Alito Urged Wiretap Immunity,” Washington Post, December 24, 2005 See the full text of Alito’s personal statement from his 1985 job application to the Department of Justice here: “New Alito Memorandum Reveals His Role at DOJ as Anti-Choice Legal Architect,” NARAL Pro-Choice America press release
6 5 4

“Abortion case will be key at Alito hearing,” Associated Press, January 3, 2006

People for the American Way


Review of Judge Samuel Alito's Record in Worker Rights Cases, Prepared by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), December 14, 2005

Review of Alito’s Record (AFL-CIO), December 14, 2005

People for the American Way


“Record leaves no doubt he’s conservative,” San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Review of Alito’s Record (AFL-CIO), December 14, 2005

“Alito Opinion in 1996 Gun Case Hints at views on Federalism,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2005 “No Right to Abortion, Alito Argued in 1985,” Washington Post, November 15, 2005



Review of Alito’s Record (AFL-CIO), December 14, 2005

“Editorial Observer: Question for Judge Alito: What about One Person One Vote?” New York Times, January 3, 2006 “The Nomination of Samuel Alito: A Watershed Moment for Women,” National Women’s Law Center, December 15, 2005, p.31
18 17

“5 – 4 Decisions Show What’s at Stake,” Think Progress, July 1, 2005 “The Nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. To the Supreme Court of the United States,” NAACP Legal Defense And Educational Fund December 15, 2005, p. 29,_Jr._to _the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States.pdf
20 19

Action Alert from the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law “The Nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. To the Supreme Court of the United States,” NAACP Legal Defense And Educational Fund December 15, 2005, p. 2,_Jr._to _the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States.pdf
22 21

“Alito Distancing Himself from Views on Abortion in '85 Letter,” Washington Post, November 16, 2005

“Alito to Feinstein: 'It was different then...”Washington Post, November 15, 2005

“Plaintiff alleges Alito Conflict,” Boston Globe, November 3, 2005


“Democrats Query Nominee on Ethics,” Washington Post, November 10, 2005

“Alito ‘72 joined conservative alumni group,” Daily Princetonian, November 18, 2005

“From Alito's Past, a Window on Conservatives at Princeton,” The New York Times, November 27, 2005

“No recollection of CAP, Alito says,” The Daily Princetonian, December 1, 2005

“Review of cases shows Alito to be staunch conservative,” Knight Ridder Newspapers, December 1, 2005