Tuesday, November 15, 2005


We learned this week that, in 1985, Judge Alito stated clearly his views on two crucial issues. He described himself, when he was applying for a promotion in the Reagan administration, as a thoroughgoing conservative "particularly proud" of contributing to cases arguing "that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

I'm sure that he will try to pass this off as just job-seeking puffery, but this is more than that. He is stating his views on what the constitution does and does not do. In other words, this is his view of the law and he certainly cannot be expected to rule differently in any specific case. And nothing in his judicial opinions indicates otherwise.

In an abortion case that did come before him, Judge Alito issued a dissenting opinion that is indeed troubling. He voted to uphold a Pennsylvanial law requiring a wife to notify her husband before getting an abortion. Beyond the burdens and difficulties such a law would present, perhaps invoking quarrels, perhaps location problems with an absent or distant husband, there would be an affront to a woman's right to deal with her health issues. Should there be a law requiring notification of a vasectomy,
or an infection?

And take an extreme case, rare but not unheard of. A husband is away for 4 months or more, maybe a job in Africa or prolonged military service. If the wife becomes pregnant and wishes an abortion, Judge Alito would require disclosure to the husband - a form of self- incrimination.

How much should a government intrude into our personal lives? Do we want a Supreme Court Justice who thinks this interference is OK?