Alito Spits On MLK

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Poll after poll suggests the country is virtually split on this issue. Now, one may disagree with a woman’s decision to have an abortion. But the real question is: should the state have the right to control a woman’s body? And if so is that not a violation of privacy? Moreover, how many women would die going the “back alley� route? According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute abortion deaths declined from over 200 per year in 1965 to nearly zero in 1999!
Alito continually dodged and sidestepped the question of Roe by saying that he can’t comment on issues that “may come before the court.�

This past weekend, I came across a quote very relevant given the pending Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel Alito Jr. In it the author states that he had seen with his own “eyes and watched Negroes receive the most tragic injustice in the courts.� These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. King made those comments as he reflected on childhood impressions that led him to become a “drum major for justice.â€?  As an instrumental voice of the Civil Rights Movement he fought valiantly against injustice. Many rights we have today were secured, in part, with his blood. But some seek to turn back the clock of progress.

This past week we saw clear signals of this in the Alito hearings. In America, the three branches of government are supposed to serve as checks against each other to prevent the monopolization of power. But with the White House and Congress firmly in Republican hands the rightward shift of the Supreme Court portends that very reality. We should all be deeply concerned by a confirmation of Alito. True the hearings were largely a semantic show meant to obfuscate instead of illuminate. But even in some of his non-answers several red flags were raised.

First, we have the CAP (Concerned Alumni of Princeton) controversy. This organization, formed in Alito’s graduation year (1972), was known for its vitriolic statements against the inclusion of African Americans, Hispanics and women into Princeton. Alito included his membership on an application when he sought (and receive) a job in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department, in 1985.
However, when asked by Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer, about this anti-democratic, racist group he feigned partial amnesia. He stated he put down things “relevant to obtaining a position� in the government. And yet he claims he has “no specific recollection of joining the organization� but remembers joining because an ROTC building was firebombed.

Say what? Does anyone seriouslyy think it plausible that one could forget such a thing? I think it’s safe to say that he committed perjury before a congressional body. But there are other troubling aspects to Alito like his opposition to affirmative action. Affirmative action is one of the mechanisms achieved, through the efforts of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, to help remedy the injustice done to minorities. Many, including Justice Clarence Thomas received opportunities due to Affirmative Action. In fact, from 1960 to 1995 the number of blacks aged 25-29 who graduated from college rose from 5.4 percent to 15.4 percent. In the nation’s law schools the percentage rose from 1 to 7.5 percent and in medical schools the figures rose to 8.1 percent from 2.2 percent. And according to the U.S Dept of Labor (1995) Affirmative Action has helped eleven million minorities, including white women, gain positions of power within the work force. But Alito, in a 1985 memo, proclaimed being “particularly proud� of his “contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed…� The American Association for Affirmative Action announced having “serious reservations� about Alito’s record.

Then there is the issue of Roe v Wade. Abortion without question is one of the most polarizing problems in America. Poll after poll suggests the country is virtually split on this issue. Now, one may disagree with a woman’s decision to have an abortion. But the real question is: should the state have the right to control a woman’s body? And if so is that not a violation of privacy? Moreover, how many women would die going the “back alley� route? According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute abortion deaths declined from over 200 per year in 1965 to nearly zero in 1999!

Alito continually dodged and sidestepped the question of Roe by saying that he can’t comment on issues that “may come before the court.â€? But in trying to be reassuring he stated he would honor the principle of “Stare Decisisâ€? which means standing by accepted legal statutes. But given his “strict constructionistâ€? view he would most certainly vote to overturn or limit Roe. In 1985, he declared that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortionâ€? and in a memo devised a strategy to attack the landmark 1973 ruling. The overturning or weakening of Roe would increase the slippery slope of decreasing privacy rights in America.  No doubt, given the intrusive nature of the Bush administration that is exactly why he was nominated.

Alito’s record makes it’s clear that he would take the Supreme Court sharply to the right. That reality doesn’t bode well for the hard fought gains attained by the likes of Dr. King. Dr King stated that “it isn’t easy to stand up for truth and justice.� But we must do so against the Alitos of this world for how else can we fulfill Dr. King’s dream?

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