ACLU Urges Senate to Thoroughly Review Record of Judge Samuel Alito, Expresses Serious Civil Liberties Concerns About Nominee

December 23, 2005 12:00 am

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New ACLU Report Examines Alito’s Record on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, December 22nd, expressing “deep concern” over the civil liberties and civil rights positions of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and urging the Senate to fully examine Judge Alito’s legal record and judicial philosophy. Accompanying the letter was a 68-page report summarizing the nominee’s civil rights and civil liberties record.

“Judge Alito’s record raises serious Constitutional and civil liberties concerns,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The Senate has an obligation to the American people and the Constitution of the United States to undertake a critical and thorough examination of his record. Tough questions must be asked of Judge Alito and the American people deserve candid responses.”

The Senate confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on January 9, 2006. Judge Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, considered a moderate voice and a critical swing vote on civil liberties and civil rights issues.

“Judge Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has the potential to change the social and judicial landscape of this country for decades,” said Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU. “The Supreme Court remains the final arbiter of our fundamental rights and freedoms.”

In its letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, the ACLU noted that Alito’s rulings over the last fifteen years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit are largely consistent with the now well-publicized letter he submitted to the Reagan Administration seeking a position with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council. In the letter he expressed particular pride in the role he played in the Solicitor General’s Office in helping to craft Supreme Court briefs arguing “that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.” His letter proclaimed that these were positions “in which I personally believe very strongly.”

“Our report demonstrates that Judge Alito has repeatedly taken a hostile position towards civil liberties and civil rights,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “New allegations about the White House’s civil liberties violations and violations of federal law make the Senate’s obligation to thoroughly examine the nominee’s record even more imperative.”

The report on Alito was prepared in accordance with ACLU policy, which requires the organization to prepare a summary of each Supreme Court nominee’s civil liberties record for use by the Senate as well as by members of the public and the media. The ACLU will continue to evaluate any new information that emerges about Judge Alito’s record in the coming weeks.

The national board of the ACLU has voted to oppose only two nominees in its history: Justice William Rehnquist (in his initial nomination to the Court) and former Solicitor General and law professor Robert Bork.

The ACLU will only oppose a Supreme Court nominee on a majority vote of its 83 person national board.

To read the ACLU’s letter to the Senate on the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, go to:

To read the ACLU’s report on Judge Alito’s record, go to:

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