Alito Confirmation Would Tip Court

Court Majority Would be Right-Wing Roman Catholics

Statement: January 17, 2006

Religious Wrong Dictates Nominees

A religious litmus test is being imposed in the selection of Supreme Court candidates–they must be pre-approved by the Religious Right, as the Harriet Miers debacle proves.

Mainstream media have downplayed or outright suppressed the fact that if Samuel Alito is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, there will be five members–a majority–who are right-wing Roman Catholics. Alito would join seated Roman Catholics Scalia, Thomas (a convert), Roberts and the slightly less right-wing Kennedy.

As the nation sleeps, our civil liberties are being imperiled by the escalating domination of government by religious ultraconservatives. A poll released last week by the Pew Research Center found that Alito’s nomination is not even on the public radar, with only 14% of the U.S. population following the process. Yet so much is at stake.

The next Supreme Court will be ruling on vital issues of separation of state and church, including the right to choose, the right to die with dignity, the right to pursue stem-cell research, the right of gays to embark on civil unions and marriage. Legal challenges of raids on the public treasury by religion and by religiously-segregated schools will come before this lopsided court. Civil liberties could be hijacked by a Court packed by the Religious Wrong.

Alito’s record on the separation of church and state is highly troubling. In a dissent, he wrote that a kindergartner’s rights were violated when a school removed his Thanksgiving poster thanking Jesus. In another dissent, he would have permitted high school seniors to elect a student to deliver a graduation prayer.

Alito upheld a holiday display in front of City Hall in Jersey City, N.J., featuring a creche, menorah, Christmas tree and plastic Frosty the Snowman. Last year he voted that an evangelical Christian group had “free speech” rights to hand out fliers on school property inviting students to attend bible study.

As a member of the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals, Alito notoriously voted to force a woman to notify her husband before obtaining an abortion. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the swing voter Alito would replace, overturned the restrictions Alito endorsed, writing: “Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry.”

, the Catholic Alito wrote on an application to become deputy assistant to the Attorney General that “the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion.” While working in the Solicitor General’s office, Alito wrote a memo urging a strategy of incremental attacks on Roe v. Wade, which is how many feminists fear Roe, under constant assault by religious groups, will be de facto overturned.

The U.S. Senate is entrusted to advise and consent, not to rubber-stamp nominees who suit the purposes of religious ultraconservatives.

Sandra Day O’Connor, as a woman and as a moderate, ought to be replaced by someone who will continue to represent the increasingly muzzled voices of moderates and women in our country. The United States scandalously lags behind the rest of the Western world (and many underdeveloped nations) when it comes to the representation of women in political and judicial positions. Canada has a 9-member Supreme Court, four of whom are women, one of whom is chief justice! Why is such lack of representation in our country tolerated? Part of the problem is the fact that of the 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, only one is a woman. Of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate who vote to confirm Supreme Court nominees, only 14 are women.

The Court and an independent federal judiciary are in jeopardy. Thomas Jefferson’s wall of separation is in danger of tumbling down. Instead of moving our nation forward, the Alito nomination threatens to eviscerate our Establishment Clause, and subject our secular civil liberties to religionist policies for generations to come.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the Alito nomination on Jan. 24. The nomination will then be voted on by the full U.S. Senate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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