American Civil Liberties Union

ACLU Freedom Files

ACLU Opposes Nomination of Judge Alito

Judge Samuel Alito

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The American Civil Liberties Union has taken the extraordinary step of formally opposing the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to the United States Supreme Court.

Throughout his career, Judge Alito has promoted an expansive view of executive authority and a limited view of the judicial role in curbing abuses of that authority.

"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," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Unfortunately, Judge Alito's record shows a willingness to support government actions that abridge individual freedoms."

Two years ago, Justice O'Connor eloquently expressed what is at stake in these critical times when she wrote: "A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

In addition to his past positions on unchecked executive power, Judge Alito has also written several troubling decisions on other fundamental civil rights issues, including:
REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM: Alito dissented in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, favoring a spousal notification requirement over a women's right to privacy.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Alito argued that a student-led prayer at a graduation ceremony did not violate the Establishment Clause.
DISCRIMINATION: Alito argued for standards that would limit plaintiffs' ability to seek trial for race, gender and disability discrimination claims.
PRIVACY: Alito dissented in a ruling that the strip search of a suspect's wife and ten-year-old daughter was unconstitutional.
DEATH PENALTY: Alito dissented in a death penalty ruling over the unconstitutional exclusion of black prospective jurors.
PRISONERS' RIGHTS: Alito argued that a policy barring prisoners in long-term segregation from possessing newspapers, magazines or photographs unless they were religious or legal did not violate the First Amendment.
Read more
The ACLU's full report on Judge Alito's record on civil liberties and civil rights is available online in summary form or for download as a PDF file. (Read the report.)

In its 86-year history, the ACLU has opposed only two prior Supreme Court nominees: Justice William Rehnquist (in his initial nomination to the Court) and former Solicitor General and law professor Robert Bork.
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