Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alito: On The High Court

(This is the seventh in our series of posts on Justice Samuel Alito. Read the first six posts here, here, here, here, here and here.)

In 1985, when he was applying for a senior post in the Reagan Justice Department, Samuel Alito wrote:

I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration...

Most recently, it has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to...help advance legal positions to which I personally believe very strongly. 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. (Emphasis added.)
Since he's been on the Supreme Court, he's had an opportunity to put those conservative beliefs into action. And he's seized that opportunity--siding with advocates of the imperial presidency in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, going to bat for corporations in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and shredding the First Amendment in Morse v. Frederick.

And then there's Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld a ban on a particular abortion procedure that the court had struck down before Alito joined the court, just a few years earlier.

Here's an NBC news report from April 19, 2007, the day after the decision was handed down:

George W. Bush is far from the peak of his power as president, but in one area of social policy--the regulation of abortion--Bush’s agenda is triumphant.

Wednesday's Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on the procedure called partial-birth abortion is a victory for Bush and for social conservatives at a time when they've had little to celebrate.

In the 5-4 ruling in a case called Gonzales v. Carhart, Bush’s two appointees to the high court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito supplied the margin of victory.


Ellen Malcolm, head of the Democratic abortion rights group Emily’s List, said Gonzales v. Carhart will be on the minds of independent and Democratic voters in next year’s elections.

"They will understand that we are now only one vote away from completely overturning Roe and so you don’t want the Republicans in there appointing one more Supreme Court justice," she said...

For abortion-rights advocates, Wednesday’s ruling was an "I told you so" moment, and a reminder of what might have been, had Senate Democrats chosen to mount a more vigorous effort to block Alito with a filibuster. "Let this decision be a lesson to those senators, editors, and pundits who thought it unseemly to filibuster Sam Alito's nomination," said Kim Gandy president of the National Organization for Women.


Alito was confirmed 58 to 42. Two GOP senators, Collins and her Maine colleague Olympia Snowe, who’d voted against the partial-birth abortion ban, also voted for Alito.
As recently as last week, Susan Collins was still dodging questions about her vote in favor of Alito.

She continues to press the point that, when it came to Alito, she refused to "apply a litmus test."

But as we've amply demonstrated in our series on Alito, opposing his nomination didn't require a litmus test. All it took was a careful consideration of his statements and his record.

Collins refusal, even now, to voice any regrets about her vote--or about Alito's tenure--speaks volumes. It tells us all we need to know.

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