Alito played key role in Reagan effort to overturn Roe, said he was ‘particularly proud’ of that work
Efforts by Judge Samuel Alito to explain away clear written statements about his legal philosophy are crumbling under the weight of ongoing revelations about his record.
A Boston Globe report today confirms that in the months before he applied for promotion to deputy assistant attorney general, Alito was actively involved in devising legal strategy in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a case in which the Reagan administration’s brief urged that “this Court should overrule” Roe v. Wade. A colleague from the solicitor general’s office told the Globe that Alito made a “major contribution” to the case.
“Sam Alito tells senators they shouldn’t pay attention to a direct statement of his judicial philosophy, because he was just trying to get a promotion,” said Neas. “But he already had a job in the solicitor general’s office, where he was hard at work advancing the right-wing legal and judicial philosophy he described so clearly. He said at the time he was ‘particularly proud’ of his work to overturn a woman’s right to choose.”
Since Monday, when Alito’s application for a promotion in the Reagan Justice Department was released to the public, the Supreme Court nominee has downplayed its contents and their importance, suggesting he was only applying for a job, and telling Senator Feinstein that he didn’t want to be judged by a “soundbite.”
Neas said that strategy was troubling in several ways. “Sam Alito isn’t doing himself any favors by suggesting that his own statements in an application for a high-level position in the Justice Department shouldn’t be taken seriously,” said Neas, “or by his insinuation that there’s something wrong with senators holding him accountable for those statements of his legal views.”
Neas said the 1985 letter is not an expression of Alito’s “personal views” about abortion and other topics, but a clear statement of his legal and judicial philosophy on a wide range of topics, including the direct assertion that the Constitution does not protect women’s right to choose.
“Alito says now that he doesn’t let his personal views play a role in his decisions as an appeals court judge,” said Neas. “But his record does reflect the legal philosophy he laid out in 1985. And as a Supreme Court justice, he would not be obligated to follow precedent. He would have great power to try to reshape the law according to his ideology.”