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The Alito Hearings: Our Rights Are At Risk
Yahoo News/USA Today
January 9, 2006

In Samuel Alito's own words, he was drawn to a career in the law because he objected to what he viewed as mistakes by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Starting today, the Senate must determine whether Alito would seek to reverse those decisions, now the mainstream of law, if he were confirmed to a seat on the court.

In a 1985 application for a political promotion at the Justice Department, Alito said that as a student, he developed an interest in constitutional law "motivated in large part by disagreement with the Warren Court decisions." He singled out high court rulings involving criminal procedure, separation of church and state, and even the principle of one person/one vote. In the same memo, Alito enthusiastically embraced the argument that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to an abortion - a contention that has been consistently rejected by the court for more than 30 years.

Alito's paper trail as a government lawyer and federal judge raises doubts as to whether he would respect those and other court precedents. And because he would replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the court's pivotal voice of pragmatic moderation in so many sensitive areas, Alito's position could be crucial to the future of individual rights, protection of minorities, and the exercise of unchecked government power. For example:

O'Connor has been the key to permitting reasonable state limits on abortion, such as parental notification laws, while preventing states from intruding on what the court has said is a private, personal decision. Whoever replaces her will determine the future of those battles, if not the broader question of government intrusion into people's most private acts and decisions altogether.

Alito's record suggests he would raise the bar for enforcing workplace equality and ordering equality in legislative representation.

As a lawyer and judge, Alito has promoted an expansive view of government power generally and presidential power specifically. Those issues take on new importance in the face of an administration that claims the right to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a court warrant and to hold citizens indefinitely without trial.

Alito has voiced a laissez-faire attitude toward use of government to promote the religion of whoever happens to be in charge, a challenge to the distinctions drawn carefully by O'Connor when government power was being exploited for religious purposes.

Neither Alito's judicial record nor his political history is a perfect predictor of how he'd rule as a justice. But given the stakes for every American, he needs to provide reassurance that he would not strip away protections the Supreme Court has guaranteed.

The Ninth clearly says our rights don't have to be enumerated, yet conservatives think it's their job to go looking for them in the Constitution. Idiots!