The Senate hearings may be over but Judge Samuel Alito Jr. still has a number of questions to answer on civil rights.
Alito, who President Bush picked to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, is a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During his time there, his rulings in several cases have revealed a hostility toward women and minorities, especially in promoting equality of opportunity and diversity.
In the 1980s, Alito co-authored briefs in the solicitor general's office that attacked affirmative action. In 1985, Alito wrote that he was "particularly proud" of his role in helping the government in its assault on affirmative action.
On the 3rd Circuit, Alito has written opinions in two sexual harassment cases brought under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, and in both cases he affirmed decisions that rejected the students' claims.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights opposes Alito's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Wade Henderson, executive director of the group, Alito has "routinely favored a reading of statutory and constitutional law that curtails the rights of individuals, limits remedies available to them and undermines the power of Congress to protect those individuals."
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) also strongly opposes Alito's confirmation. Bruce S. Gordon, the organization's executive director, has said he finds no room for Alito's narrow philosophy in the area of equal justice. "His record is one that has consistently opposed civil rights," Gordon told The Washington Post. "Alito's record as a judge is not open to affirmative action, he is not open to employees taking their employers to task, he is not open to civil rights issues in general."
A hot topic during the Senate hearings involved Alito's membership in a conservative organization known as Concerned Alumni of Princeton, or CAP. The group was formed in 1972 to protest Princeton University's support of co-education and diversity.
During the confirmation hearings, Alito -- as expected -- distanced himself from the organization's extreme beliefs. Yet in 1985, he included his membership to CAP on a job application in the Reagan administration, presumably to accentuate his right-wing credentials and get hired. This should trouble us all.
Someone with such a hostile record toward civil rights and equal justice has no place on our nation's high court.
Brian Gilmore is a lawyer and poet with two collections of poetry, including "Jungle Nights and Soda Fountain Rags: A Poem for Duke Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra" (Karibu Books, 2000). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.