Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
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Samuel A. Alito, Jr., 55, has been nominated by President Bush to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court.
Alito has a very impressive resume, so his nomination will not generate the criticisms that resulted from the Harriet Miers nomination. He is also reliably conservative, so the President can rely on his base to support this selection. Many legal commentators have referred to him by the nickname "Scalito," implying that he is a carbon copy of Justice Antonin Scalia. Some have suggested he's more like "Scalia lite."
Alito is a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Nominated by President George H. W. Bush to the court in 1990, Alito was educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School. His work experience includes stints as assistant to the Solicitor General and deputy assistant to the Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, and as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
Key Decisions and Writings:
Abortion - Alito has endorsed restrictions on abortion, but it is unclear whether he would vote to overturn Roe. Senator Spector has already indicated that Alito's views on precedent will be closely examined in the confirmation hearings.
Alito upheld a Pennsylvania pro-life law that the Supreme Court overturned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He wrote an opinion in that case arguing for a standard that would permit virtually any restriction on abortion.
He was the lone dissenter in a 1991 case in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law's requirement that women tell their husbands before having an abortion. The three-judge panel preserved most elements of the abortion control law, including a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that minors notify their parents. But Alito argued in his dissent that the spousal notification provision did not impose an "undue burden" and also should have been upheld.
Church and State - Alito wrote for the majority in 1997 in finding that Jersey City officials did not violate the Constitution with a holiday display that included a creche, a menorah and secular symbols of the Christmas season. In 1999, he and his colleagues found that a Newark policy that allowed medical, but not religious, exemptions to a ban on police officers having beards violated the First Amendment.
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