A Catholic court?

Eleanor Smeal raises the issue of religion and the Supreme Court.

Published October 31, 2005 11:35PM (EST)

Feminist Majority leader Eleanor Smeal this afternoon released her statement on Judge Samuel Alito, and as is her way, Smeal did not mince words, charging that "instead of reaching out to women and/or people of color to make the Supreme Court more diverse and representative, Bush has slammed the door in the face of women and minorities. He has appointed a man who would turn back the clock on women's rights and civil rights. Not only is the Court not representative in terms of race and gender, but also in terms of religion -- with Alito, the majority of the Court would be Roman Catholics, which would under-represent other religions, not to mention nonbelievers."

Smeal went on, "Alito is no conservative; rather, he is a reactionary ... He was the only judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to require women to notify their husbands -- even husbands who batter women -- to obtain an abortion." Recounting Alito's lone dissenting opinions against the Family and Medical Leave Act and in a sex discrimination case, Smeal wrote, "In case after case, Alito has demonstrated hostility to women's rights, civil rights, workers' rights, separation of church and state, and privacy rights. He would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade and would not recognize lesbian and gay rights."

In Smeal's opinion, Bush chose a divisive far-right nominee because he is "hoping to change the national debate from his administration's troubles with Iraq, Katrina, and indictments." Smeal finished on a personal note: As an Italian-American and women's rights leader, I was one of the very few who testified against Scalia in 1986. I regret that once again an Italian-American who would make it more difficult to fight discrimination has been nominated to the Supreme Court."

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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