- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2005

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s opinions on abortion, discrimination and other contentious issues are the work of a mainstream jurist, not the ideologue depicted by critics, the White House argues in a voluminous briefing book on the Supreme Court nominee meant for Republican senators.

Judge Alito’s dissent in a 1991 abortion ruling showed “concern for the safety of women,” the material says. By approving a requirement for spousal notification, he “reflected the position advanced by the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania.”

A 1996 dissent in a sex discrimination case in which Judge Alito sided with the employer shows he “simply questioned the wisdom of a ‘blanket rule’” on dismissing such complaints before trial, the briefing book says.

President Bush nominated Judge Alito, of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

The White House compilation systematically lays out anticipated criticism of Judge Alito on abortion, free speech, civil rights, religious liberties and other topics, then counters them in language that senators or other supporters might use in public. The bulk of the material is made up of legal citations.

Administration aides distributed their research to senior Republican aides on the Judiciary Committee in a White House meeting within hours of Judge Alito’s nomination on Oct. 31.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the “Judge Samuel A. Alito Briefing Binder,” which runs roughly 600 pages.

On the issue of free speech, White House officials sought to rebut what they called the accusation that Judge Alito “is an ideological conservative who would be too deferential to the government and do too little to protect the First Amendment right to free speech.”

Officials cited his opinion in the 2001 case of Saxe v. State College Area School District. In the unanimous ruling, the 3rd Circuit struck down a school’s anti-harassment policy, saying it was a violation of the free speech clause in the First Amendment.

A group of students who identified themselves as Christians had challenged the policy, saying their religion teaches them that homosexuality is a sin and they think “they have a right to speak out about the sinful nature and harmful effects of homosexuality.”

The White House cited three cases in trying to deflect criticism that Judge Alito, as a former prosecutor, had not been sufficiently protective of Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable searches.

For example, in 1998, he wrote an opinion overturning the conviction of a man charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, saying police lacked justification to stop and search the man before his arrest. In this case, police stopped the man, who was driving a black Nissan, after hearing reports that two black males driving a black sports car, possibly a Camaro, had committed a series of robberies.

Judge Alito wrote for the court that the officer lacked “probable cause to arrest any black male who happened to drive by in a black sports car.”

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