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Alito once said he was ‘proud’ to argue against abortion rights


WASHINGTON (BP)–Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in 1985 that he was proud of his work in cases arguing the Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion, The Washington Times reported Nov. 14.

The document was part of an application Alito filled out to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III during the Reagan administration.

“It has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan’s administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly,” Alito wrote in the document, according to The Times.

“I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

Alito got the job under Meese and served as deputy assistant to the attorney general from 1985-87. From 1981-85 he served as assistant to the solicitor general.

Abortion is at the heart of Alito’s confirmation battle. If confirmed, he would replace Sandra Day O’Connor, a consistent backer of abortion rights. As a judge on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito has ruled on at least four abortion-related cases.

In a 1991 dissent, Alito argued it was constitutional to require a woman to notify her husband before getting an abortion. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the majority and against Alito.

But in 2000 Alito voted to overturn a New Jersey ban on partial-birth abortion, citing Supreme Court precedent. His opinion came in the same year the Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban.

Hearings on Alito’s nomination are set to begin Jan. 9, with a floor vote scheduled Jan. 20.

In the document to Meese, Alito said, “I am and always have been a conservative” and “I am a lifelong registered Republican.”

Alito also outlined his views on conservatism.

“I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values,” he wrote, according to The Times. “In the field of law, I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate,” he added.

Alito also cited conservatives who had impacted his life.

“When I first became interested in government and politics during the 1960s, the greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley Jr., the National Review, and Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign,” he wrote, according to The Times. “In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment.”

Jay Sekulow, chief counself of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said Alito’s past comments about Roe v. Wade should not disqualify him for a seat on the high court.

“The fact that Judge Alito criticized the legal underpinnings supporting abortion as a constitutional right should not be used against him in the confirmation process,” Sekulow said in a statement. “The statement by Judge Alito mirrors that of the late Supreme Court Justice Byron White, who was appointed by President Kennedy, and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. At the same time, the Senate overwhelmingly approved Justices Breyer and Ginsburg [both of whom were nominated by President Clinton] after they expressed comments supporting the right to abortion. Even Justice Ginsburg -– who supports the right to abortion –- has questioned the legal underpinnings of Roe v. Wade.

“A statement by Judge Alito two decades ago questioning the constitutionality of the right to an abortion cannot be used to disqualify him for a seat on the high court. The Senate should focus on Judge Alito’s judicial philosophy and his 15-year record of service on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit,” Sekulow said.

Of the nine Supreme Court justices, at least two — Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia — support overturning Roe v. Wade. It is not known where Chief Justice John Roberts stands. Another justice, Anthony Kennedy, has voted to uphold Roe but has supported restrictions on abortion. In 2000 he was part of the minority that voted to uphold Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion.
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