- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. would prevent Congress from regulating machine guns, block minorities from seeking justice in discrimination cases and allow police to strip-search children without warrants, Judiciary Committee Democrats asserted yesterday.

Even before opening statements were completed, Republicans accused Democrats of unfairly smearing the nominee by knowingly distorting complex court cases handled by Judge Alito.

“In an era when America is still too often divided by race and riches, Judge Alito has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. “In 15 years on the bench, not one.”

Republicans quickly circulated details of at least four such cases in which Judge Alito ruled in favor of minorities. “Any student in his third week of law school would know this stuff,” said one Republican staffer. “It has to be intentional.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, accused Judge Alito of determining in the case of U.S. v. Rybar that Congress doesn’t have the authority to regulate the sale of machine guns.

“You took this position even though the Supreme Court had made clear in 1939 — the Miller case — that Congress did have the authority to ban the possession and transfer of firearms and even though Congress had passed three federal statutes that extensively documented the impact that guns and gun violence have on interstate commerce,” she said. “I am concerned that the Rybar opinion demonstrates a willingness to strike down laws with which you personally may disagree by employing a narrow reading of Congress’ constitutional authority to enact legislation.”

Simply false, Republicans countered.

“Judge Alito wrote that Congress DOES have the authority to regulate machine guns,” Brian Jones, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, wrote in an e-mail message to journalists. “What’s more, he set out a roadmap showing Congress how to do so.”

Judge Alito’s complaint in that case was that Congress had simply failed to include in the legislation the basis for its authority in the matter.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, told Judge Alito he was “the only judge on your court to authorize a very intrusive search of a 10-year-old girl.”

Republicans responded that, in the first place, no judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals “approved” any search, but rather the court ruled on a technical matter in an appeal stemming from the search. On that technical issue, Judge Alito said that police officers searching a drug dealer’s house were not wrong to search the suspect’s daughter because the affidavit extended to everyone present.

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