Monday, October 31, 2005

"Alito"? Is that Italian for "overturned"?

Dobson 'Extremely Pleased' by Alito Nomination

Says circuit judge "understands the role of the judiciary"

Colorado Springs, Colo. — Focus on the Family Action founder and chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., issued the following statement today about the nomination of Circuit Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court:

"We are extremely pleased by President Bush's selection of Judge Samuel Alito, who has earned the respect of colleagues in both parties for his legal acumen and courtroom demeanor. As a federal judge for the last 15 years, Judge Alito has demonstrated that he understands the role of the judiciary is to interpret existing law in light of the Constitution, not make new law in service to a personal political agenda.

Though God knows it’s not for lack of trying

Judge Alito’s analysis is itself totally lacking in support, and seems to allow for “substantial ill effects” to be suffered by some women just because we cannot be sure how many women would beimpacted. He simply would have held that a husband had a “legitimate” interest in a fetus being carried by his wife and that the state had a legitimate interest in furthering this interest, giving no weight to the countervailing interest of a woman to control her own body.

The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently rejected this spousal consent provision, writing that it would give a man “the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.” Planned Parenthood v.Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 897 (1992).

In a decision directly impacting the rights of women, Judge Alito rejected as unconstitutional the provisions of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allowing state employees to sue their states for failure to provide them with the leave mandated under the Act.

When the Supreme Court addressed the question in 2003, it concluded that the FMLA was a valid exercise of Congressional authority under the Fourteenth Amendment, remedying historic and well-documented discrimination against women. Nev. Dep't of Human Res. v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721(2003)

Judge Alito would make it more difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in sex discrimination and other cases charging unlawful employment discrimination. An important issue in employment discrimination cases is what evidence the plaintiff must offer in order to defeat a defendant employer’s motion for summary judgment. Once a plaintiff shows that the employer took some adverse employment action against the plaintiff (e.g., firing), in circumstances that create an inference of discrimination, the employer has the opportunity to offer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. At that point, the plaintiff may show that the employer’s proffered legitimate reason is, in fact, a pretext.

Judge Alito was the sole member of the Third Circuit to urge that, even where the plaintiff had reached this point and shown the employer’s supposedly legitimate reason to be pretextual, the employer could still be granted summary judgment, rather than sending the case to a jury.

Judge Alito’s position was eventually rejected
by the Supreme Court.
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000).

I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And then beat 'em.


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