As hearings open, labor, civil rights, women’s groups call for Senate rejection

WASHINGTON — Judge Samuel Alito spun a “rags to riches” tale in his opening testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But his record, brought to light during the committee’s confirmation hearings, and by a broad human rights coalition, exposed him as a judge who panders to the rich and powerful.

“I’m gravely concerned by Judge Alito’s clear record of support for vast presidential authority unchecked by the other two branches of government,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in his opening statement Jan. 9 in the packed hearing room. “In decision after decision on the bench, he has excused abusive actions by the authorities that intrude on the privacy and freedoms of average Americans.”

Outside the hearing, Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, charged, “In his 15 years on the federal bench, Alito has almost never sided with African Americans in employment discrimination cases.” Alito’s defense of his membership in a racist alumni club at Princeton is “disingenuous,” Henderson added. Alito “has a clear and disturbing record on civil rights and other fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Hector Flores, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, announced that LULAC’s executive board voted unanimously to oppose Alito, citing a memo he wrote in 1986 arguing that undocumented immigrants “have no due process rights” under the Constitution.

The National Organization for Women has brought hundreds of protesters here for “Freedom Winter.” NOW spokesperson Lisa Bennett told the World that many students, mostly young women, “are in the capital during their winter break visiting senators’ offices to urge them to vote ‘no’ on confirming Alito.” Others are back home organizing visits to senators’ offices, e-mails, phone calls and letters to the senators protesting Alito’s hostility to women’s rights.

People for the American Way launched a “Stop Alito” campaign with grassroots activity in every state and the District of Columbia.

The labor movement is also opposing Alito (click here related story, “Labor opposes Alito nomination”