Samuel Alito: Minority Rights Champion
In his 15 years on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito has compiled a reputation for safeguarding the rights of blacks, religious minorities, and persecuted women that would be the envy of any left-winger.The article goes on to note:
As a federal appeals judge, Alito ruled in favor of Ronald A. Williams, a black man serving life in prison for first-degree murder, who had discovered evidence that one of his jurors was racially prejudiced and lied about this during the screening process. Since this evidence only came to light after Williams’ conviction, Alito gave him a new day in court.
However, Alito’s most notable ruling came in the groundbreaking case of Fatin v. INS, which specifically established the rights of women who refused to wear traditional Islamic dress, such as the burqa, in their homelands. Alito determined, for the first time, that women who have reason to believe they would be persecuted for not abiding by medieval Koranic dress codes could be granted asylum in the United States. One law review article commented, “Fatin v. INS was a stepping stone for Iranian women. It finally showed an international awareness of repression on the basis of gender persecution.” Unlike liberal jurists, though, he set the bar high enough that “persecution” means “threats to life, confinement, torture, and economic restrictions so severe that they constitute a threat to life or freedom.”So far, this makes Alito sound quite politically correct, protecting fashionable minorities. But the reality is that he’s shown a consistent respect for freedom of religion.
He has, in other venues, shown appreciation for the rights of Muslims — Sunni Muslims, specifically (a fact that should not be lost on our leftist friends, who counsel Bush to establish cordial relations with Sunnis in Iraq). Alito rebuked a police department for forcing Muslim officers to shave their beards, which violated their religious consciences.
In fact, Alito has a stellar record on Freedom of Religion in general, even siding against the ACLU’s full-time grinches in a Nativity scene case, ACLU v. Schundler. He likewise ruled Christian afterschool clubs should be able to set up tables at school events, and religious students should be able to express their faith openly, in their words and artwork.Imagine! The notion that Christians have rights too!
Conservatives tend to roll their eyes at liberal rhetoric about “protecting the rights of minorities,” and for good reason. Liberals seem to want to protect only the rights of fashionable minorities. They will go to the mat for the rights of homosexuals but scoff at conservative Christian students who want organize a high school club and have the same rights as gay high school clubs.
Secondly, liberals tend to find rights that simply don’t exist in the language of the Constitution, in the intentions of the Founders nor in the statutes.
But a principled advocate of minority rights is exactly the sort of judge that should be on the court.