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News and Op/Ed

Two Thumbs Down On Samuel Alito
Judge Samuel Alito 
Some Jewish perspectives.

NJDC Criticizes Alito

(NJDC) As the Senate votes on the appointment of Judge Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, one concern weighs heavily on the minds of many American Jews: the separation of church and state, and how a Justice Alito would vote in this area.

To be sure, there are many troubling items in Judge Alito's record: his expansive view of executive power, his views on women and the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, and his honesty about citing bigoted campus groups like "Concerned Alumni of Princeton University" in previous job applications.

But few issues cut to the heart of being a Jew in America -- or being a member of any minority faith in America -- than Judge Alito's positions on church/state separation. If for these views alone, NJDC today is encouraging the Senate Judiciary Committee and the entire United States Senate to vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.

"When we combine Judge Alito's demonstrated disregard for the Constitution's protections of religious minorities with his judicial activism, it becomes clear that Judge Alito's brand of jurisprudence threatens every American's religious liberty," National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman said today. 

"Judge Alito's views of the Establishment Clause of our Constitution -- and his knack for viewing the crucial protections it provides in only the narrowest, sparest terms -- shows that he is out of step with settled precedent and our founders' intent.

"Particularly given Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's pivotal role, and her high level of concern regarding public coercion of religious minorities, it is doubly important that her replacement share her proven understanding of the protections provided by our Constitution for minority faith adherents. Yet time and again, Judge Alito's decisions portray a man outside the mainstream when it comes to religious freedom in America. For this reason alone, the National Jewish Democratic Council urges a 'no' vote on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito," Forman concluded.

For a more complete discussion of Judge Alito's record on this and other issues of special concern to American Jews, and for further resources, please check out NJDC's new blog.

JSPAN Opposes Alito Nomination

(JSPAN) The Supreme Court is a very special tribunal, the court of last resort for the hopes and dreams of 300 million Americans and, at times, many millions of foreigners who are incidentally reached by our laws and policies. One of the most vital roles of this Court is to protect individuals and minorities from the tyranny of the majority, and the weak and needy from the power and avarice of the mighty. Our success and the progress of all minorities in this nation rest heavily on the Court's interpretation of two key constitutional sources - the guarantees in the Bill of Rights, and the 14th Amendment Due Process clause. 

We need Justices who understand that the accommodation of religious practices under the Bill of Rights means protecting those who belong to minorities from being forced to participate in religious observances that are not their own, even if those observances are very common and very popular with the majority. We need Justices who believe in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and will not allow "faith based initiatives"? - or any other political initiatives --- to serve as a cover-up for government funding of religious institutions.

We need Justices who truly support the privacy rights of women and all Americans, and do not just give lip service to that important policy. In the words of The New York Times Editorial Board (January 13, 2006), "The single most important thing a senator can do to support abortion rights is to vote against Supreme Court nominees who would take such rights away. Given Judge Alito's record and his testimony, it is hard to see how any pro-choice Senators can call themselves strong advocates of abortion rights if they support him."

We need Supreme Court Justices who value the right to be safe in our homes from uncontrolled governmental prying and intrusion. In these times, protecting both our security and our liberties requires a sensitive balance. We look to our judges to prevent the Executive Branch from trampling our civil liberties in its pursuit of threats to our security. Judge Alito's emphasis on deference to the Executive Branch is therefore very troubling.

Judge Alito shows no comprehension of the need to protect the weak, and very little interest in preserving the Bill of Rights from those who would find reasons to make inroads on it. He would even deny due process to newcomers to these shores.

Judge Alito does not express our ideals, either in his prior decisions or in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. His jurisprudence allows no consideration of the weak or downtrodden who happen to fall in the path of government action.