WASHINGTON — Would you buy a used car from Judge Samuel Alito? The question arises because of a memo he wrote to President Ronald Reagan, dated Oct. 27, 1986, urging Reagan to veto the “Truth in Mileage” Act designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous dealers who roll back the odometers on used cars they sell.

“After all, it is the states and not the federal government that is charged with protecting the health, safety and welfare of their citizens,” Alito, then a Justice Department lawyer, wrote to Reagan. It was an odd memo, since the very first sentence of the U.S. Constitution proclaims the duty of the federal government to “promote the general welfare” of the people, not the welfare of used car dealers.

But Alito’s willful ignorance of the Constitution did not deter President George W. Bush from nominating him to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. His father had named Alito to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey where his decisions were repeatedly reversed by the full court and he was criticized for his extremist legal views.

Now, even more serious questions are swirling about Alito’s allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) warned recently that Alito may face a Senate filibuster if he is unable to explain views he expressed hostile to legislative reapportionment required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to guarantee “one person, one vote.”

In a job application Alito submitted in 1985 seeking appointment as deputy assistant attorney general under Reagan, Alito wrote that during his college years, “I developed deep interest in Constitutional law motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions … particularly … reapportionment.”

Said Biden, “If he believes that reapportionment is a questionable decision — that is the idea of Baker v. Carr, ‘one man, one vote’ — then clearly you’ll find a lot of people, including me, willing to do whatever they can to keep him off the court. That would include a filibuster, if need be.”

Baker v. Carr was a 1962 Supreme Court ruling upholding the authority of the federal courts to overturn legislative districts that are arbitrarily designed to dilute the Black vote or disenfranchise African American voters.

In that same job application, Alito expressed the opinion that the Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion, even though the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly ruled that the privacy clause of the Fourth Amendment does protect a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In one Pennsylvania abortion case, Alito stated that the pregnant woman should be forced to inform her husband before an abortion. His colleagues on the Third Circuit disagreed and overthrew that male supremacist provision.

He also rejected a series of high court rulings upholding the rights of privacy, protections against arbitrary police searches and the rights of the accused.

Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, said PFAW has done extensive research on Alito and found him a right-wing extremist ideologue. Alito has taken positions that would make it “more difficult for victims of race and sex discrimination to prove their claims,” Neas said. In one case, a majority of the Third Circuit sharply criticized Alito’s dissent on grounds it would “immunize an employer from the reach of Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act. In another case, Alito wrote that Congress had no authority to compel state compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, repudiated that view. Alito cast the deciding vote in a capital punishment case involving a Black man convicted by an all-white jury from which Black jurors had been impermissibly excluded, PFAW charged. Alito sarcastically dismissed arguments against all-white juries by comparing it to the disproportionate number of left-handed presidents. The Third Circuit sharply criticized him for the comparison.

“PFAW will mobilize its 750,000 members to wage a massive national effort to defeat Alito’s nomination,” Neas said. At stake, he added, is preserving the Constitution’s system of “checks and balances,” as well as civil rights and liberties. The PFAW’s online petition demanding that the Senate refuse to confirm Alito can be found at www.pfaw.org.

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