January 10, 2006

Seven Reasons to Oppose Alito

Via Chuck Currie, who in turn found it at People for the American Way, I found a list of seven reasons why Judge Samuel Alito should not be confirmed as an associate justice to the Supreme Court. At least six of those reasons should be important to all Catholics, so I have decided to reprint them here:

  1. Privacy: In dissent, Alito would have upheld the strip search of a mother and her ten-year old daughter, even though the warrant allowing the search did not name either of them. Judge Michael Chertoff, now head of the Department of Homeland Security, criticized that position as threatening to turn the constitution's search warrant requirement into little more than a "rubber stamp." Doe v. Groody

  2. Community Safety: Alito, dissenting in the case of United States v. Rybar, said that Congress does not have the power under the Commerce Clause to restrict the transfer and possession of machine guns at gun shows. In response to Alito's assertion that Congress must make findings or provide empirical evidence of a link between a regulation and its effect on interstate commerce, the majority said, "Nothing in Lopez (an earlier Supreme Court case) requires either Congress or the Executive to play Show and Tell with the federal courts at the peril of invalidation of a Congressional statute."

  3. Family and Medical Leave: Writing for a unanimous court in Chittister v. Dept. of Community & Economic Development, Judge Alito held that Congress did not have the authority to allow state employees to sue for damages under one section of the Family and Medical Leave Act. By contrast, the Supreme Court in a later case (Nevada Dept. of Human Resources v. Hibbs) upheld the FMLA against a similar challenge; the Court's decision was written by Chief Justice Rehnquist and joined by Justice O'Connor.

  4. Reproductive Freedom*: In dissent, Alito would have upheld a provision of Pennsylvania's restrictive anti-abortion law requiring a woman in certain circumstances to notify her husband before obtaining an abortion. His colleagues on the Third Circuit and the Supreme Court majority disagreed and overturned the provision. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

  5. Racial Discrimination in the Workplace: In dissent, Alito argued for imposing an evidentiary burden on victims of employment discrimination that, according to the majority, would have "eviscerated" legal protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In particular, the majority said that Alito's position would protect employers from suit even in situations where the employer's belief that it had selected the "best" candidate "was the result of a conscious racial bias." Bray v. Marriott Hotels

  6. Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: As a lone dissenter in a 10-1 decision of the full Third Circuit, Alito would have made it more difficult for someone alleging discrimination to present sufficient evidence to get his or her case to a jury. In particular, Alito would have prevented a woman claiming gender discrimination from going to trial, even where she had produced evidence showing that her employer's claim that it had a legitimate reason to deny her a promotion was a pretext for the employer's allegedly discriminatory actions. Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co.

  7. Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection: Alito cast the deciding vote and wrote the opinion in a 2-1 ruling rejecting claims by an African American defendant who had been convicted of felony murder by an all white jury from which black jurors had been impermissibly struck because of their race. The full Third Circuit reversed this ruling, and the majority specifically criticized Alito for having compared statistical evidence about the prosecution's exclusion of blacks from juries in capital cases to an explanation of why a disproportionate number of recent U.S. Presidents have been left-handed. According to the majority, "[t]o suggest any comparability to the striking of jurors based on their race is to minimize the history of discrimination against prospective black jurors and black defendants . . ." Riley v. Taylor

  8. Click here to send a message to your Senators asking that they vote against Samuel Alito.

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* Note: Sollicitudo Rei Socialis takes no official position on issues related to reproductive choice and abortion, so opinions among the various contributing editors and writers may vary. My position is that abortion is gravely immoral, but that overturning Roe v. Wade over thirty years later would have no significant impact on the abortion rate, driving most abortions underground and making abortions even more dangerous for women who seek them. I believe that the moral scourge of abortion should be opposed in our day through social and economic measures like the 95-10 Initiative, rather than through legal and legislative measures.

See Also: "Opposing Judge Alito" - November 1, 2005

For Alternative Opinions, See: Catholics in the Public Square, JudgeAlito.com