The American Bar Association rates judicial nominees based on their professional qualifications, which includes competence, judicial temperament, and integrity. Given Samuel Alito’s extensive experience as an appellate judge, it is no surprise that he received a well qualified rating, since no one questions his abilities as a judge.
We, and hundreds of law professors, and millions of Americans, believe that intellect and experience alone are not enough to earn a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court. And indeed, throughout our nation’s history, Senators have appropriately considered the legal record and judicial philosophy of nominees to the Supreme Court, as do the presidents who nominate them. The ABA rating does not consider ideology or philosophy.
We believe a nominee to such a powerful and important position must demonstrate a commitment to upholding Americans’ constitutional rights, freedoms and legal protections, and to preserving the legal and social justice progress of the past 70 years.
Judge Alito’s record unfortunately makes it clear that Americans cannot count on him to uphold their rights and freedoms – and that he has in fact actively sought to weaken them. He has sought to dismantle reproductive choice, undermine civil rights enforcement, weaken environmental protections, restrict individuals’ ability to seek justice in the courts when their rights are trampled by corporations, and diminish constitutional protections for abusive government intrusion into Americans’ privacy.
We believe that record makes Samuel Alito unqualified to serve on our nation’s highest court, in spite of his unquestioned professional competence, and makes him an especially bad choice to replace the mainstream conservative Sandra Day O’Connor, who has provided the swing vote to uphold many important rights and legal protections.
It is Senators’ responsibility under the Constitution to make an independent evaluation of every nominee’s record. We believe that must include an assessment of Samuel Alito’s legal record and judicial philosophy and their potential impact on Americans’ rights, freedoms, and legal protections.