Dubya Bush introduced his new Supreme Court nominee to the nation this morning: It’s Samuel Alito Jr., a New Jersey native who has been on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 1990. Over the course of his career, Alito has served in the Army National Guard, as US attorney for the state of New Jersey, as a deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, and as a an assistant solicitor general.
Bush says that Alito comes to the nomination with the most judicial experience of any nominee in 70 years. As expected, he is seen as a far-right judge in line with the philosophies of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas: In fact, though he doesn’t demonstrate the bombast of Scalia, many of his colleagues call him “Scalito.”
Alito is clearly no Harriet Miers. He has a track record and the paper trail to prove it. From the New York Times:
Among his noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Third Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.
“The Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands’ knowledge because of perceived problems — such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition — that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion,” Alito wrote.
The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, struck down the spousal notification, but Chief Justice William Rehnquist quoted from Alito’s opinion in his dissent. …
In a 1999 case, Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, the Third Circuit ruled 3-0 that Muslim police officers in the city can keep their beards. The police had made exemption in its facial hair policy for medical reasons (a skin condition known as pseudo folliculitis barbae) but not for religious reasons.
Alito wrote the opinion, saying, “We cannot accept the department’s position that its differential treatment of medical exemptions and religious exemptions is premised on a good-faith belief that the former may be required by law while the latter are not.”
In July 2004, the Third Circuit ruled that a Pennsylvania law prohibiting student newspapers from running ads for alcohol was unconstitutional. At issue was Act 199, an amendment to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code passed in 1996 that denied student newspapers advertising revenue from alcoholic beverages.
Alito said the law violated the First Amendment rights of the student newspaper, The Pitt News, from the University of Pittsburgh.
Bush went straight to the right for advice on nominees that would win points with conservatives. According to the Washington Post, one of those advisors was the anti-GLBT, anti-choice political-fundamentalist group Concerned Women for America: CWA attorney Janet M. LaRue said the group received a call from the White House on Saturday and liked what it heard, which means liberals, gays, and those who believe in women’s reproductive rights may have serious cause for concern.
The scandal-plagued White House has been looking for a way to move the still-ongoing Plamegate investigation off of the front pages of the nation’s newspapers. By choosing a Supreme Court nominee sure to win favor with his far-right base, Bush may indeed revive his sagging popularity with conservatives — and set off a battle royal in the US Senate. Already there is talk that Democratic Sen. Harry Reid is talking filibuster, according to right-wing site The Conservative Voice, which quotes Reid, who reportedly warned the Shrub not to nominate the New Jersey judge, as saying the Alito nomination raises “a lot of problems.”
The choice appears to be a frightening one for those with liberties in jeopardy and for those who already are unequal under law. Which means observers should be prepared to see a real scrap: Senate Republicans and Democrats are ready to rumble over this one. If the GOP wins, certain Americans — the ones the White House does not value — could pay a steep price for generations to come.Powered by Sidelines