- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. is a lifelong Republican committed to federalism and other key conservative ideals, according to documents released yesterday by the White House.

In one memo, Judge Alito urged President Reagan to veto a federal bill to require used-car dealers to keep track of the mileage of cars, saying that such a law would infringe upon states’ rights.

“My administration believes that the federal government should not intervene in matters that traditionally have been the responsibility of the states, and in which there is no overriding need for national policy uniformity,” Judge Alito wrote in a Oct. 27, 1986, memo for Mr. Reagan’s counsel. “Appropriately, the licensing and transfer of automobiles have been a matter of state concern since the inception of motor travel.”

As it turned out, Judge Alito apparently believed in the ideals of federalism even more strongly than Mr. Reagan, who signed the federal Truth in Mileage Act into law the next day.

Such views place the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge at sharp odds with some Senate Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who combat states’ rights arguments.

“When he comes before the Senate, Judge Alito faces a heavy burden of demonstrating that he no longer holds these extremely troubling views and would bring an open mind and a real commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms if the Senate confirms him for the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and member of the Judiciary Committee.

Judge Alito will appear before the panel in January.

And, unlike many nominees to the federal courts who have hidden their personal views behind those of their clients, Judge Alito embraced conservatism.

“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 wrote in a 1985 essay accompanying his application to be deputy assistant attorney general.

In that same essay, Judge Alito said the courts have overtaken much of the role reserved for elected officials.

“In the field of law, I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate,” he wrote.

Judge Alito noted that as a federal employee, he was barred from partisan politics, but that he had given modestly to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), and several other Republican campaigns.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, said Judge Alito “has many questions to answer.”

“I’m concerned about documents that show an eager and early partisan in the ranks of ideological activists in his party’s extreme right wing,” Mr. Leahy said yesterday. “He bragged about his support for the cut-throat politics of NCPAC, which largely invented the negative, slash-and-burn politics of the hard right and of the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy.”

Mr. Kennedy said Judge Alito’s conservative credentials contrast to the thin record of White House Counsel Harriet Miers, whose nomination to the Supreme Court fizzled last month.

“This may explain why the right wing expressed such enthusiastic support for Judge Alito after campaigning against Harriet Miers,” he said.

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