Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reasons to oppose Alito

I think this is going to be a frequently updated list, so I'll date items and adjust the date stamp now and then so that it stays near the top. {update: Apparently this alters the URL when you go past a month boundary, so I'll put it back in November and post a link from the sidebar, and update notices, instead)

I know it's technically a fallacy, but the fact that he is strongly supported by groups whose agendas and tactics I fundamentally oppose just doesn't help.

10 January 2006
If he claims, in the hearings, to be reasonable and mainstream with respect to precedent and stare decisis, someone needs to ask him about these cases which suggest that "conservative" is a cultural position (and not a popular one), not a judicial temperment, in his case. That might make the hearings interesting, but I doubt it.

25 December 2005
Alito would enshrine the monarchical presidency [via]:
One troubling memo concerns domestic wiretaps - a timely topic. In the memo, which he wrote as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Judge Alito argued that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits when he illegally wiretaps Americans. Judge Alito argued for taking a step-by-step approach to establishing this principle, much as he argued for an incremental approach to reversing Roe v. Wade in another memo.

The Supreme Court flatly rejected Judge Alito's view of the law. In a 1985 ruling, the court rightly concluded that if the attorney general had the sort of immunity Judge Alito favored, it would be an invitation to deny people their constitutional rights.

In a second memo released yesterday, Judge Alito made another bald proposal for grabbing power for the president. He said that when the president signed bills into law, he should make a "signing statement" about what the law means. By doing so, Judge Alito hoped the president could shift courts' focus away from "legislative intent" - a well-established part of interpreting the meaning of a statute - toward what he called "the President's intent."

21 November 2005
Religious Freedom. Sounds harmless enough, right?
Both supporters and opponents say he has the potential to become the most aggressive supporter of religious liberty on the court, moving it toward greater deference to religious practices.

"He is inclined to the view of the First Amendment that the government is not intended to be hostile to religion," said Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University in California. "It is intended to be accommodating when it can."

Professor Kmiec, a former Justice Department colleague of Judge Alito's, is a leading proponent of the "religious liberty" argument pressed by social conservatives, which advances the view that the Constitution allows for a greater presence of religion in the public sphere than courts have previously allowed. This stream of argument has largely involved issues like prayer at school functions, the display of religious symbols at Christmastime and public financing of programs run by religious groups.
Among his other distinctions, Alito ruled that evangelical groups could send home invitations to proselytizing meetings with elementary school kids. To be fair, he also has won considerable praise for his support of what you might call reasonable accomodation to personal religious requirements (accomodations that he might well call into question if they were involuntary ability restrictions instead of voluntary religious ones, but what the hell), but what that basically means is that he's entirely hostile to secular, agnostic and atheistic folks, and fine with almost anyone else (as long as it's faith, not need).

15 November 2005
More Disability Rights issues

6 November 2005
Alito is ethically challenged. What else do you call it when a judge doesn't recuse himself when his own financial interests are at stake? Oh, Supreme Court material, of course.

3 November 2005
New York Times analysis [registration required, until they archive it and charge you]:
In the several hundred cases he heard over 15 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Alito dissented more than 60 times, often taking issue with decisions that sided with criminal defendants, prisoners and immigrants.

He frequently voted in favor of the government and corporations in these dissents
. He generally deferred to what he called the good faith judgments of other participants in the justice system, including police officers, prosecutors, prison wardens, trial judges and juries. He appeared particularly reluctant to order new trials over what he called harmless errors in the presentation of evidence or in jury instructions. [emphasis added]
I'm all for "good faith" but part of the role of the courts is to ensure that good faith is backed by good sense and protected rights. It's just not enough to be pure of heart and on the side of the angels....

In other news, Alito was in favor of gay liberation thirty-five years ago.

2 November 2005
Disability Rights: Alito's fundamentally hostile to disability rights, defining both disability and discrimination so narrowly that he strips the "reasonable" out of "reasonable accomodation."

Women's rights: Spousal notification? No Exceptions.

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