Saturday, December 3, 2005
A New York Times editorial today:
Judge Samuel Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, promised yesterday that his personal views would not be a factor in how he approached abortion cases. The trouble is that there is mounting evidence that Judge Alito has been hoping for years to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision recognizing women's abortion rights. His attempts to explain away his record of insisting that the Constitution does not protect abortion are becoming more tortured, and harder to believe.
Judge Alito's personal views are too well known to be debated - his mother recently told The Associated Press, "Of course, he's against abortion." Many people personally oppose abortions while supporting a woman's right to reach her own decision. But when Judge Alito applied for a promotion to a legal position in the Reagan administration in 1985, he made it clear that he was not one of those people. He was "particularly proud," he wrote, of his work as a lawyer on cases arguing "that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Judge Alito has tried to explain away that fairly unambiguous statement by saying he was simply an advocate seeking a job. That immediately raised questions about his credibility. Had he misrepresented his views to get a job? Is he misrepresenting them now since he is trying to get an even more important one?
In any case, a memo released later makes it clear that Judge Alito opposed Roe even when he wasn't a job applicant. In 1985, he told his boss that two pending cases provided an "opportunity to advance the goals of overruling Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." It is hard to believe that Judge Alito did not regard Roe as illegitimate when he wrote those words. If he agrees with Roe, it raises serious questions about what kind of lawyer he is, because in that case he would have been working to deny millions of women a fundamental right that he believed the Constitution guaranteed them.