Alito Fails to Meet Burden on First Day of Testimony

Samuel Alito entered his confirmation hearings with the burden of repudiating his record of extremism on privacy, civil rights, presidential power, and federalism.  Instead, said People For the American Way President Ralph G Neas, Alito evaded questions, tried to distance himself from his positions without disavowing them, and reinforced concerns raised about his record.

“I would not have thought it possible for a nominee to be more evasive than John Roberts,” said Neas, “but on crucial questions about privacy, reproductive choice, and limits on presidential power, Samuel Alito is trying hard to leave Americans in the dark about what kind of justice he will be.”

Neas said a number of Democratic senators had raised excellent questions about the extremism of Alito’s record and legal views, questions that were not resolved by the efforts of Alito and his supporters to explain away some hard facts about his record, including:

  • A study by University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein found that 91 percent of his dissents take positions more conservative than do his colleagues on the appeals court, including colleagues appointed by Presidents Bush and Reagan. 
  • When there is a conflict between institutions and individual rights, Alito’s dissents argue against individual rights 84 percent of the time.  Alito advocated positions detrimental to civil rights 85 percent of the time. 

“I believe we will see even more sharply focused questions from senators in their second round, given Judge Alito’s testimony today,” Neas said.

On the topic of Alito’s membership in the reactionary “Concerned Alumni of Princeton,” Alito “was just not credible,” said Neas.  “How could someone brag about membership in a group that was designed to stir controversy and then deny knowing it was controversial?”  Neas noted that CAP was notorious for its inflammatory rhetoric opposing the increasing racial and gender diversity on campus and its hostility to gay and lesbian students, and that Princeton alums Bill Bradley and Bill Frist had both sharply criticized the group.

“Today’s testimony confirmed that there is no doubt that replacing Sandra Day O’Connor with Samuel Alito would shift the Supreme Court far to the right,” said Neas.  “Americans cannot count on Samuel Alito to uphold their rights and legal protections.”

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