If At First You Don’t Succeed, Nominate Samuel Alito

Over the past few weeks, Republicans and Democrats alike shivered in fear over the nomination of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the United States Supreme Court. A so-called “stealth-nominee,” Miers had no paper trail, no judicial record, and no proof of her conservative allegiance or understanding of Constitutional Law. There was no indication that Miers would be the strict constructionist desperately desired by conservatives looking for the next Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. However, with Miers’ withdrawal from the nomination process, there are no more worries. Bush finally proved his mettle by nominating Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. Many Democrats voted to confirm Roberts, recognizing his outstanding intellectual and legal acumen. If the Democrats want President Bush to nominate intellectuals with a strong understanding of the law, then they have no reason to vote against, let alone filibuster, Alito. When President Bush nominated Alito on Monday, he pointed out that, “Judge Alito is one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America, and his long career in public service has given him an extraordinary breadth of experience.” Alito is the son of Italian immigrants who taught Alito about the value of hard work. In the development of his judicial philosophy, Alito earned the affectionate nickname “Scalito,” referring to the similarities between Alito and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Alito earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Princeton University in 1972. He went on to earn his Doctorate of Justice at Yale in 1975. Alito was the editor of the Yale Law Review, a striking similarity to Roberts, who was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Alito moved quickly into the professional realm, becoming a law clerk for the Honorable Leonard I. Garth on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals from 1976-1977. After finishing his clerkship with Garth, Alito became an Assistant U.S attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he served until 1981. Alito served as Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General and Deputy Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General between 1981 and 1987. After serving as U.S Attorney General for the District of New Jersey from 1987-1990, Alito was nominated by President George H.W. Bush on February 20, 1990 to serve on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the same court where he had clerked for Judge Garth in the late 1970’s. Alito took the seat vacated by Judge John Joseph Gibbons after being confirmed by the Senate on April 27, 1990. Alito immediately distinguished himself on a court famous for its liberal leanings. In 1991, Alito was the sole dissenter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, arguing that a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking abortions to inform their husbands was constitutional. In his dissent, Alito reasoned that “…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.” The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, where the Pennsylvania law was struck down 6-3. Nevertheless, the crux of Alito’s argument was used by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote the dissenting opinion in the case. In less than two years as an Appellate Judge, Alito had made a strong impact on the U.S. Judiciary. Alito established himself firmly as a constructionist and a defender of limited government, writing a dissenting opinion in Sheridan v. Dupont (1996) and in Homer v. Gilbert (1996). In Sheridan, Alito defended the viewpoint that a plaintiff in a sex discrimination case should not go thru summary judgment simply by casting doubt on the employer’s impartiality towards female employees. In Homer, Alito was again in the dissent, arguing that a state university had not violated the procedural due process rights of a campus policeman by suspending him without pay and foregoing a prior hearing after he was arrested and charged with drug offenses. Alito’s most famous decision was in writing a majority opinion for ACLU v. Schundler (1999), saying that the Establishment Clause was not violated by a city hall holiday display containing both religious and secular objects. This display included, among other things, a menorah and a Nativity scene. Alito has consistently defended conservative values as a staunch libertarian and law-and-order conservative. He has the experience, as well as the extensive knowledge of the law, required of a Supreme Court nominee. Alito must be confirmed because, looking beyond his beliefs, he is an exemplary model of an intelligent judge.