The Alito Application...And the Silence of the Democrats
Revolution #024, November 27, 2005, posted at revcom.us
A society where people accused of a crime have no right to a lawyer, and are never told that they can refuse to be questioned and interrogated by police. A society where women have no right to birth control or abortion. Where Mexican-Americans can be blocked from juries, where students are officially organized to pray in public schools, where schools and universities are "whites only" and Black people are systematically excluded from voting or having their votes count the same as whites.
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito thinks society never should have moved away from that! No wonder raving Christian Fascists like James Dobson (the man who said that he doesn’t just want to take America back to "Happy Days"--he wants to go all the way back to the Plymouth Rock) are ecstatic about this man's nomination.
The Washington Times released a job application Alito wrote to work for then-president Reagan's Attorney General in which Alito stated that he does not believe there is a constitutional right to abortion, a position that obviously is in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade. (A brief that Alito later wrote stated that
"[T]he textual, historical and doctrinal basis of [Roe v. Wade] is so far flawed that this Court should overrule it and return the law to the condition in which it was before that case was decided.")
In this application, Alito also stated that
"In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment."
What are those "Warren Court decisions" that Alito was so outraged by? They established things that most people consider to be basic rights--read on:
"You have the right to remain silent," is the legacy of the famous 1966 Miranda case, where a young Mexican immigrant was arrested and coerced into confession. The Warren Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that a suspect had to be informed that they had a right to remain silent, and to be warned that any statements they did make would be used against them in court.
"You have the right to an attorney." The Warren Court ruled in the Gideon case (made famous by the book Gideon's Trumpet) that state courts are required by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution to provide lawyers for defendants in criminal cases unable to afford their own attorneys.
"The Establishment Clause"
In Engel v. Vitale, the Warren Court ruled that the section of the First Amendment that states that "Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion ..." meant that government shouldn't coerce students to pray in public schools. They struck down a "voluntary" prayer that began each school day: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen."
Warren Court decisions, in 1962 and 1964, ruled against the practice where Congressional and Senate districts were fixed so that small numbers of mainly conservative, often rural white voters had their own districts, while much larger numbers of people (usually in urban areas) were crammed into other districts - essentially giving people in these conservative, rural districts more votes per person. These rigged, white-get-more-votes congressional districts were part of denying Black people the right to vote.
Other decisions associated with the Warren Court include...
Every one of these legal "rights" is violated all the time. For example, Miranda has been attacked and dismantled in post-9/11 America. But to officially, legally and permanently reverse all of those things is a very different thing altogether--and this is exactly what Alito described as his goal and motivation!
Alito has not said whether his disagreement with the Warren Court extends to Brown (integrated schools) or Griswold (legalized birth control). Alito's supporters say only that the 1985 job application was so long ago it is unfair to hold him to what he wrote. But Alito has not said that he now disagrees with what he wrote on the application....
So where are the declarations from the Democrats or "moderates" in congress that these "turn the clock back to the '50s" positions are totally unacceptable for someone on the Supreme Court? Where are the pledges to filibuster to the end to stop this nomination?
Senator Kennedy has "grave doubts" and "unanswered questions."
The battle that must be waged over the whole direction of society--as revealed by Alito application--is one that we will have to fight for ourselves, like the future depends on it. And it does.