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Alito tries to assure senators on abortion issue
Scripps Howard News Service


November 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito sought to assure a Democratic senator Tuesday that his views have changed since he wrote 20 years ago "that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said Alito told him in a 20-minute meeting that he should not be judged on the basis of the job application he wrote in 1985 to become deputy assistant to then-Attorney General Ed Meese.




"He said that was 20 years ago and that was a job application and that since then he's written many cases, or several cases that involve the issue and that he thinks to the extent that people are judging him on his views on that issue, they ought to do it on the basis of those decisions he's written since he's been on the court," said Bingaman.

Alito himself refused to answer a question about the letter during a brief photo opportunity in Bingaman's office.

The Supreme Court has upheld a woman's basic right to an abortion since its landmark Roe V. Wade ruling in 1973. As a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law that required a married woman to inform her husband of her abortion plans in advance in most cases. The majority of the circuit court disagreed and voted to strike down the law as too burdensome on women, and the Supreme Court later upheld the majority opinion in that case.

Bingaman said Alito also told him that he has demonstrated that he is "strongly committed' to following Supreme Court precedents. The justices would have to reverse precedent to overturn Roe.

Bingaman, who is pro-choice, said he still doesn't know how Alito might rule on the issue. The senator said he won't decide how he will vote on Alito's nomination until after confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January.

Bingaman is not a member of the Judiciary Committee but he is considered a swing Democrat. He voted against the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas, but supported President Bush's nomination of John Roberts to be chief justice. But Bingaman also joined in several Democratic filibusters to thwart the nominations of conservative appellate court nominees.

The Ronald Reagan Library and the National Archives simultaneously released Alito's job application Monday as part of 83 pages of Alito records from Reagan's presidency.

In the letter, Alito, then a lawyer in the solicitor general's office, also boasted of his contributions in cases where the administration argued against racial and ethnic quotas.

"I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration," Alito wrote. "I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values.

He got the job.


Contact James W. Brosnan at BrosnanJ(at)
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