Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
Samuel A. Alito Jr. is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Before that, he was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, from 1990 to 2006. His ideological likeness to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has earned him the nickname "Scalito."
Judge Alito was born on April 1, 1950 in Trenton, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in 1972, and went to Yale Law School, where he earned a J.D. in 1975. From 1981 to 1985 he was Assistant to the United States Solicitor General, and was Deputy assistant to the U.S. attorney general from 1985 to 1987. After a brief stint as U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey, he was nominated by George H. W. Bush in 1990 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
George W. Bush nominated Judge Alito as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States on October 31, 2005. His nomination was Bush's second choice to replace outgoing justice Sandra Day O'Connor when his frst pick, Harriet Miers withdraw her nomination due to objections from the GOP's religious extremist base came to believe Miers would not overturn Roe v. Wade. Alito was confirmed by the Senate on January 31, 2006.
One of Justice Alito's first actions was to name a former senior Justice Department official, Adam G. Ciongoli, as one of his clerks.
Judicial outlook and record
Alito has the Scalia-esque nickname "Little Nino" and the Italian background to match it. As the author of a widely noted dissent urging his court to uphold restrictions on abortion that the Supreme Court then struck down, in a decision that reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, Alito could be especially filibuster-prone. Like Scalia, he frequently makes his mark in dissent.
Separation of Church and State
For a unanimous panel, upheld a lower-court order requiring a school district to allow a Bible-study group to set up an information table at an elementary-school back-to-school night. Reasoned that by preventing the group from displaying its literature, the district was discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. (Child Evangelism Fellowship of N.J., Inc. v. Stafford Township School District, 2004)
For a unanimous panel, denied standing to a group seeking to take down a municipal holiday display that included a menorah and a crèche. Alito said that the group couldn't challenge the display as taxpayers because the items were donated rather than bought by the town. (ACLU-NJ v. Township of Wall, 2001)
Dissented from a ruling by the 3rd Circuit as a whole that an elementary school did not violate the First Amendment rights of a kindergartener by taking down (and then putting back up) a Thanksgiving poster he'd made that said the thing he was most thankful for was Jesus. The majority decided to throw out the case on a technicality; Alito protested that the child's claim should go forward. (C.H. v. Oliva, 2000)
Allowed a federal probation office in Delaware to condition the release of a man who had pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography on his willingness to submit to random polygraph tests about whether he'd had impermissible contact with children. (United States v. Warren, 2003)
Dissented from a refusal to grant police officers immunity from a civil suit brought by a mother and her 10-year-old daughter who'd each been strip-searched because they lived in the home of a suspected drug dealer. Alito felt the police had behaved reasonably because the warrant led them to conclude that there was probable cause to search everyone in the house for drugs. (Doe v. Groody, 2004)
Granted the habeas claim of an African-American defendant who sought to introduce evidence that a juror made a racist remark after the jury reached its verdict. (Williams v. Price, 2003)
Dissented from a decision holding that Pennsylvania could not require women to inform their husbands before getting abortions. Alito argued that because the law only required the husbands to have notice and did not give them a veto over their wives' decisions, it did not pose an "undue burden" for women. This approach was rejected by the Supreme Court. (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1991)
Agreed that an immigration judge was within his discretion to find not credible an application for asylum based on China's forced-abortion policy. (Xue-Jie Chen v. Ashcroft, 2004)
Conflict of interest
When he was confirmed in 1990, he promised to disqualify "any cases involving the Vanguard companies, which he owned in. In 2002, he made a ruling favorable to Vanguard. He owned $390,000-$975,000 in Vanguard stock at the time. More information
- The Supreme Court Shortlist - Slate magazine, Friday, July 1, 2005