The American Civil Liberties Union has done something it has done only twice before in its 86-year history: oppose a Supreme Court nomination. The civil liberties organization has announced it is opposing President Bush's nominee, Samuel Alito, to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor. Not since Robert Bork in 1987, and William Rehnquist before him, has the ACLU opposed a nominee.
"At a time when our president has claimed unprecedented authority to spy on Americans and jail terrorism suspects indefinitely, America needs a Supreme Court justice who will uphold our precious civil liberties," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero in a statement released Monday. "Unfortunately, Judge Alito's record shows a willingness to support government actions that abridge individual freedoms."
Romero, speaking Tuesday on Air America Radio's Rachel Maddow show, said that his organization finds most troubling the content of Alito's statements and opinions and his judicial record. President Bush, he said, "has seized unilateral executive powers;" having Alito on the High Court is a major threat to Americans' civil liberties as a result.
Romero cited Alito's troubling decisions on race, religion, and reproductive rights during his years as a federal appeals court judge. What concerns the ACLU and Democrats everywhere is that these are the key issues where O'Connor provided the crucial swing vote.
Alito has a frightening 15-year paper trail which the ACLU has meticulously detailed in a issued a 68-page report. This documentation of Alito's record on civil liberties and civil rights was sent in December, along with a letter expressing "deep concern," to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, urging the committee to conduct a thorough review of Judge Alito's record.
Both the report and the letter are available at http://www.ACLU.org.
"Judge Alito has all too often taken a hostile position toward our fundamental civil liberties and civil rights," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The Supreme Court is the final guardian of our liberties, and Judge Alito has shown that he lacks the dedication to that commitment. Recent revelations about White House-sanctioned domestic spying, in defiance of the law, make it clear that the Senate cannot, and must not, approve this nominee."