Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito

Infobox Judge
name = Samuel Anthony Alito

imagesize =
caption =
office = Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
termstart = January 31 2006
termend =
nominator = George W. Bush
appointer =
predecessor = Sandra Day O'Connor
successor = Incumbent
office2 =
termstart2 =
termend2 =
nominator2 =
appointer2 =
predecessor2 =
successor2 =
birthdate = birth date and age|1950|04|1
birthplace = Trenton, New Jersey
deathdate =
deathplace =
spouse = Martha Alito
alma_mater = Princeton University
Yale University
religion = Roman Catholic

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. (born April 1, 1950) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed by President George W. Bush, Alito is generally considered a fairly conservative jurist and, since becoming a member of the Supreme Court, he has often voted with conservative members of the court, but not to the extent of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia.

Educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, Alito served as a United States attorney and a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit prior to joining the Supreme Court. He is the 110th justicecite news | first=Charles | last=Hurt | url= | title=Alito sworn in as 110th justice | publisher=Washington Times | date= February 1, 2006 | accessdate=2007-03-30] cite web |title=Alito sworn in as nation's 110th Supreme Court justice (|url= | accessmonthday=February 4 | accessyear=2006 ] and the second Italian-American on the Supreme Court.

Personal life

Alito was born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Italian American parents: Samuel A. Alito, Sr., and the former Rose Fradusco. [Guy Taylor, "Alito called 'perfect' student," "Washington Times", December 13, 2005.] [Dale Russakoff and Jo Becker, "A Search for Order, Answer in the Law," "Washington Post", January 8, 2006] He is a Roman Catholic. [cite news | last =Thomson| first =Michael| coauthors =| title =Five Catholics on the Supreme Court| work =| pages =| language =| publisher =The Partial Observer| date = 2005-11-02| url =| accessdate = 2007-07-01] Alito grew up in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, a suburb of Trenton. [Barone, Michael. [ "It's inspiring to see Alito's background come to foreground: Alito"] , "Chicago Sun-Times", January 18, 2006. Accessed September 7, 2007. "In his opening statement to the Judiciary Committee, Judge Samuel Alito told the senators where he comes from. First, Hamilton Township, N.J., the modest-income suburb of Trenton, where he grew up."] He attended Steinert High School in Hamilton Township [ [ Samuel A. Alito, Jr. biography] , FindLaw, accessed November 20, 2006.] and graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with a Bachelor of Arts in 1972 before attending Yale Law School, where he served as editor on the "Yale Law Journal" and earned a Juris Doctor in 1975.

Alito's father, now deceased, was a high school teacher and then became the first Director of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, a position he held from 1952 to 1984. Alito's mother is a retired schoolteacher. Alito's sister Rosemary is regarded as one of New Jersey's top employment lawyers.

At Princeton, Alito led a student conference in 1971 called "The Boundaries of Privacy in American Society" which, among other things, supported curbs on domestic intelligence gathering, called for the decriminalization of sodomy, and urged for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring by employers. [ [ Daily Princetonian] ]

Alito was a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which was formed in October 1972 at least in part to oppose Princeton's decisions regarding affirmative action. Apart from Alito's written 1985 statement of membership of CAP on a job application, which Alito says was truthful, there is no other documentation of Alito's involvement with or contributions in the group. Alito has cited the banning and subsequent treatment of ROTC by the university as his reason for belonging to CAP.

While a sophomore at Princeton, Alito received the (low) lottery number 32, in a Selective Service drawing on December 1, 1969. In 1970, he became a member of the school's Army ROTC program, attending a six-week basic summer camp that year at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in lieu of having been in ROTC during his first two years in college. Graduating in 1972, Alito left a sign of his lofty aspirations in his yearbook, which said that he hoped to "eventually warm a seat on the Supreme Court."" [ Alito has a record of steady conservatism, reputation for civility] ", "Chicago Tribune", October 31, 2005.]

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps after his graduation and assigned to the United States Army Reserve. Following his graduation from Yale Law School in 1975, he served on active duty from September to December 1975, while attending the Officer Basic Course for Signal Corps officers at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The remainder of his time in the Army was served in the inactive Reserves. He had the rank of Captain when he received an Honorable Discharge in 1980. [ Dead link|date=March 2008] [ [ Washington Post] , November 2, 2005]

Since 1985, Alito has been married to Martha-Ann Alito (born Martha-Ann Bomgardner), once a law librarian with family roots in Oklahoma. They have two college age children: Philip and Laura. Alito resided with his family in West Caldwell, New Jersey before his Supreme Court nomination. [ [ Alito's Supreme Court Nomination Confirmed] , "National Public Radio". Accessed September 20, 2007. "Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, live in West Caldwell, N.J."] He has since moved to a home in Washington.


* 1976 – 1977 — Law clerk for Leonard I. Garth of the Third Circuit.
* 1977 – 1981 — Assistant United States Attorney, District of New Jersey.
* 1981 – 1985 — Assistant to Solicitor General Rex E. Lee.
* 1985 – 1987 — Deputy Assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese.
* 1987 – 1990 — United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
* 1990 – 2006 — Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
* 1999 – 2004 — Adjunct Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, New Jersey.
* 2006 – (current) — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Alito argued twelve cases before the Supreme Court for the federal government during his tenure as assistant to the Solicitor General. While serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, he prosecuted many cases that involved drug trafficking and organized crime. [ [ Las Vegas Sun] , October 31, 2005]

In his 1985 application for Deputy Assistant to the Attorney General, Alito espoused conservative views, naming William F. Buckley, Jr., the "National Review", Alexander Bickel, and Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign as major influences.

He also expressed concern about Warren Court decisions in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment. [ [ Washington Times] , November 14, 2005]

Alito was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on February 20 1990 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Alito was rated by the American Bar Association as "Well Qualified" at the time of his nomination. He was confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate on April 27 1990. [ [ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) ] ] As a Third Circuit judge, his chambers were in Newark, New Jersey.

As adjunct professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, Alito has taught courses in constitutional law and an original course on terrorism and civil liberties. In 1995, Judge Alito was presented with that law school's Saint Thomas More Medal, "in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of law." [ [ Error 404"Page Not Found"- Seton Hall University ] ] On May 25, 2007, he delivered the commencement address at Seton Hall Law's commencement ceremony and received an honorary law degree from the law school. [ [ Alito Given Honorary Degree ] ] [Received Honorary Doctor of Laws from Hampden-Sydney College on May 13, 2007.]

He has been a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarian lawyers and legal students interested in conservative legal theory. [(Hook, 1)]

Opinions as court of appeals judge


* A dissenting opinion in "United States v. Rybar", 103 F.3d 273 (3d Cir. 1996), arguing that a U.S. law banning private citizens from owning submachine guns was similar to one struck down by the Supreme Court in "United States v. Lopez" and thus outside the authority of Congress under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
* A majority opinion in "Chittister v. Department of Community & Economic Development", 226 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2000). This case concerned an employee's claim of wrongful termination under the Family and Medical Leave Act against the state of Pennsylvania. States are free to maintain sovereign immunity under the U.S. Constitution. Since Pennsylvania had maintained its immunity to such suits, Alito affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the employee’s claims.

First Amendment

* A majority opinion in "Saxe v. State College Area School District", 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), holding that a public school district's anti-harassment policy was unconstitutionally overbroad and therefore violated First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
* A majority opinion in "ACLU v. Schundler", 168 F.3d 92 (3d Cir. 1999), holding that a government-sponsored holiday display consisting solely of religious symbols was impermissible, but that a mixed display including both secular and religious symbols was permissible if balanced in a generally secular context.
* A dissenting opinion in "C. H. v. Oliva et al." (3rd Cir. 2000), arguing that the removal and subsequent replacement in "a less conspicuous spot" of a kindergartener's religious themed poster was, at least potentially, a violation of his right to free expression.

Fourth and Eighth Amendments

*A dissenting opinion in "Doe v. Groody", arguing that qualified immunity should have protected police officers from a finding of having violated constitutional rights when they strip-searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized the search of a residence.
*A unanimous opinion in "Chadwick v. Janecka" (3d Cir. 2002), holding that there was "no federal constitutional bar" to the "indefinite confinement" of a man imprisoned for civil contempt because he claimed he could not pay his $2.5 million debt to his wife.

Civil rights

*A majority opinion in "Williams v. Price", 343 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2003), granting a writ of habeas corpus to a black state prisoner after state courts had refused to consider the testimony of a witness who stated that a juror had uttered derogatory remarks about blacks during an encounter in the courthouse after the conclusion of the trial. []
* A dissenting opinion in "Glass v. Philadelphia Electric Company", 34 F.3d 188 (3rd Cir. 1994), arguing that a lower court did not abuse its discretion in excluding certain evidence of past conduct that defendant had created a hostile and racist work environment.
* A majority opinion in "Robinson v. City of Pittsburgh", 120 F.3d 1286 (3rd Cir. 1997), rejecting a female police officer's Equal Protection-based sexual harassment and retaliation claims against the city and certain police officials and rejecting her Title VII-based retaliation claim against the city, but allowing her Title VII-based sexual harassment claim against the city.

Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court and confirmation hearings

On July 1, 2005, Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court effective upon the confirmation of a successor. President George W. Bush first nominated John Roberts to the vacancy; however, when Chief Justice William Rehnquist died on September 3, Bush withdrew Roberts' nomination to fill O'Connor's seat and instead nominated Roberts to the Chief Justiceship. On October 3, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace O'Connor. However, Miers withdrew her acceptance of the nomination on October 27 after encountering widespread opposition.

On October 31, President Bush announced that he was nominating Alito to O'Connor's seat, and he submitted the nomination to the Senate on November 10, 2005. Judge Alito was unanimously rated "well qualified" to fill the Associate Justice post by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which measures the professional qualifications of a nominee. The committee rates judges as "not qualified," "qualified," or "well qualified." [ Dead link|date=March 2008]

Alito's confirmation hearing was held from January 9 to January 13, 2006. On January 24, his nomination was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 10-8 party line vote. Democratic Senators characterized Alito as a hard right conservative in the mold of a Clarence Thomas or Robert Bork. Alito professed reluctance to commit to any type of ideology, stating he would act as an impartial referee. On the abortion issue, he stated that he would look at that with an open mind but would not state how he would rule on "Roe v. Wade" if that issue were to come up before the court. Some pro-life activists, however, claim Alito's confirmation as a victory for their cause. [ [ Reaction to Nomination of Samuel Alito to Supreme Court] , Concerned Women of America. Accessed March 27, 2007.]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) formally opposed Alito's nomination. The ACLU has only taken this step two other times in its entire history, the last time being with the nomination of Robert Bork who was rejected by a 58-42 vote in the Senate [ [ Robert Bork and John Roberts ] ] . In releasing their report [] on Alito ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero justified the decision saying that "At a time when our president has claimed unprecedented authority to spy on Americans and jail terrorism suspects indefinitely, America needs a Supreme Court justice who will uphold our precious civil liberties. Judge Alito's record shows a willingness to support government actions that abridge individual freedoms." []

Debate on the nomination began in the full Senate on January 25. After a failed filibuster attempt by Senator John Kerry, on January 31, the Senate confirmed Alito to the Supreme Court by a vote of 58-42 [ [ Alito Confirmed as Newest Supreme Court Justice : NPR ] ] , with four Democratic senators voting for confirmation and one Republican and an Independent voting against. Alito's confirmation vote was the second lowest on the current court, where he is surpassed only by Clarence Thomas who was confirmed 52-48.

U.S. Supreme Court career

Because Alito joined the court mid-term, he had not heard arguments for many cases which had yet to be decided. The decisions in most of those cases were released without his participation (i.e., with an 8-member Court); none were 4-4, so Alito would not have been the deciding vote in any of them if he had participated. Three cases — "Garcetti v. Ceballos", "Hudson v. Michigan", and "Kansas v. Marsh" — were reargued, since a tie needed to be broken.

Justice Alito delivered his first written opinion on May 1, 2006 in the case "Holmes v. South Carolina", a case involving the right of criminal defendants to present evidence that a third-party committed the crime. (Since the beginning of the Rehnquist Court, new justices have been given unanimous opinions to write as their first majority court opinion, often done as a courtesy "breaking in" of new justices, so that every justice has at least one unanimous, uncontroversial opinion under his/her belt with which to battle critics). Alito wrote for a unanimous court in ordering a new trial for Bobby Lee Holmes due to South Carolina's rule that barred such evidence based on the strength of the prosecution's case, rather than on the relevance and strength of the defense evidence itself. His other majority opinions in his first term were in "Zedner v. United States", "Woodford v. Ngo", and "Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy".

In his first term, Alito voted fairly conservatively. For example, in the three reargued cases ("Garcetti v. Ceballos", "Hudson v. Michigan" and "Kansas v. Marsh"), Alito created a 5-4 majority by voting with four other conservative Justices — Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas. He further voted with the conservative wing of the court on "Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon" [] and "Rapanos v. United States". Alito was also a dissenter in "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld", alongside Justices Scalia and Thomas.

While Alito's voting record is conservative, he does not always join the most conservative Justices on the Court. On February 1, 2006, in Alito's first decision sitting on the Supreme Court, he voted with the majority (6-3) to refuse Missouri's request to vacate the stay of execution issued by the Eighth Circuit for death-row inmate Michael Taylor; Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas were in favor of vacating the stay. Missouri had twice asked the justices to lift the stay and permit the execution. [ link|date=March 2008]

On the abortion issue, it appears that Alito believes some restrictions on the procedure are constitutionally permitted, but has not signaled a willingness to overturn "Roe v. Wade". In 2003, Congress passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which led to a lawsuit in the case of "Gonzales v. Carhart". The Court had previously ruled in "Stenberg v. Carhart" that a state's ban on partial birth abortion was unconstitutional because such a ban did not have an exception in the case of a threat to the health of the mother. The membership of the Court changed after Stenberg, with John Roberts and Samuel Alito replacing William Rehnquist (a dissenter in "Roe") and Sandra Day O'Connor (a supporter of "Roe") respectively. Further, the ban at issue in "Gonzales v. Carhart" was a federal statute, rather than a state statute as in the Stenberg case.

On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the five-justice majority that Congress was within its power to generally ban the procedure, although the Court left the door open for as-applied challenges. Kennedy's opinion implied but did not absolutely reach the question whether the Court's prior decisions in "Roe v. Wade", "Planned Parenthood v. Casey", and "Stenberg v. Carhart" were valid, and instead the Court said that the challenged statute is consistent with those prior decisions whether or not those prior decisions were valid.

Alito joined fully in the majority as did Chief Justice Roberts. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Scalia, contending that the Court's prior decisions in "Roe v. Wade" and "Planned Parenthood v. Casey" should be reversed, and also noting that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act may exceed the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause. Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy did not sign on to that assertion. Justices Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer, and Stevens dissented, contending that the ruling ignored Supreme Court abortion precedent.

Moreover, despite having been at one time nicknamed "Scalito," Alito's views have differed from those of Scalia (and Thomas), as in the Michael Taylor case cited above and various other cases of the 2005 term. Scalia, a fierce critic of reliance on legislative history in statutory interpretation, was the only member of the Court in "Zedner v. United States" not to join a section of Alito's opinion that discussed the legislative history of the statute in question. In two higher-profile cases, involving the constitutionality of political gerrymandering and campaign finance reform ("LULAC v. Perry" and "Randall v. Sorrell"), Alito adopted narrow positions, declining to join the bolder positions advanced by either philosophical side of the Court. According to a analysis of 2005 term decisions, Alito and Scalia concurred in the result of 86 percent of decisions (in which both participated), and concurred in full in only 75 percent. [ [ SCOTUS Blog] ] (By's reckoning, this is less agreement than between Scalia and Kennedy, O'Connor and Souter, or Stevens and Ginsburg.) On the recent abortion ruling, Alito simply joined Anthony Kennedy's opinion rather than join Scalia in Thomas's stronger assertion.

In the 2007 landmark free speech case "Morse v. Frederick", Alito joined Roberts' majority decision that speech advocating drug use can be banned in public schools, but also warned that the ruling must be circumscribed that it does not interfere with political speech, such as the discussion of the medical marijuana debate.

Alito's majority opinion in the 2008 worker protection case "Gomez-Perez v. Potter" cleared the way for federal workers who experience retaliation after filing age discrimination complaints to sue for damages. He sided with the liberal block of the court, inferring protection against retaliation in the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act despite the lack of an explicit provision concerning retaliation.

Related documents

* [ Legal Memo] written while working in the United States Solicitor General's office regarding the Fleeing felon rule. (May 18, 1984) (PDF)
* [ 'Personal Qualifications Statement'] when applying to be an Assistant Attorney General under Pres. Ronald Reagan. (November 15, 1985)
* [ Legal Memo written as Deputy Asst. Attorney General to the OMB’s General Counsel regarding OMB authority of FDIC funds.] (1986) (PDF)
* [ House Committee on the Judiciary testimony regarding unpublished court opinions.] (1990) (PDF)
* [ 2003 Financial Disclosure]
* [ 2004 Financial Disclosure]
* [ Response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire] (November 30, 2005) (PDF), ( [ Appendix1] [ Appendix2] [ Appendix3] [ Appendix4] )

ee also

*Judicial Restraint
*Unitary Executive theory



*Bazelon, Emily (October 31, 2005). [ "Alito v. O'Connor"] . "Slate".
* [ "Bush choice sets up court battle"] . "BBC".
*Collins, Ronald K.L. (October 31, 2005). [ Judge Alito: fairly strong on free expression] .
*Collins, Ronald K.L. (November 3, 2005). [ Alito as government lawyer: '84 broadcast-regulation case] .
*Davis, Elliott M. (Summer 2007). [ The Newer Textualism: Justice Alito's Statutory Interpretation] . "Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy"
*Dickerson, John (October 31, 2005). [ "Ready To Rumble"] . "Slate".
*Federal Judicial Center. [ Judges of the United States] (official "curriculum vitae").
*Hook, Janet (November 1, 2005). "Bush's Supreme Court Nominee: A Phillies Fan With Blue-Chip Legal Stats." "Los Angeles Times". P. A1.

External links

* [ "Washington Post" Profile]
* [ Daily Princetonian profile]
* [ Federal Judicial Center profile]
* [ SourceWatch article on Alito]
* [ People For The American Way's Preliminary Review of Judge Alito] - a liberal group's analysis (PDF).
* [ Read Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding Samuel Alito]
* [ Samuel Alito] , JURIST
* [ National Archives Alito links]
* [ The White House Judicial Nominations page on Alito]

NAME=Alito, Samuel Anthony, Jr.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
DATE OF BIRTH=April 1, 1950
PLACE OF BIRTH=Trenton, New Jersey

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