Alito in '85: No constitutional right to abortion

Bush's Supreme Court nominee said he "personally" believed "very strongly" that the Constitution doesn't guarantee abortion rights.


Tim Grieve
November 14, 2005 10:09PM (UTC)

As activist groups try to take their campaign against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito beyond the issue of abortion, a document to be released today from Alito's past will move the focus right back to that hot-button issue. According to the Washington Times, Alito wrote in 1985 that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," adding that he "personally" believed "very strongly" in that view.

The Times says that the abortion comments came in a document Alito submitted to the Presidential Personnel Office as he sought a job as a political appointee in Ronald Reagan's administration, and that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will release the document, and others, today. In addition to shedding light on Alito's views on abortion rights -- or the lack thereof -- the document contains Alito's assurances that he was and always had been a conservative and that he had been registered as a Republican for his entire adult life. In the document, the Times says, Alito said he was proud to have served the president in the Solicitor General's Office -- especially when he had the chance to work on cases dear to the conservative movement. "I am particularly proud," he wrote, "of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

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Alito's comments about abortion rights could prove more troublesome than John Roberts' did. The White House was able to dismiss Roberts' earlier writing on abortion -- he said once that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided" and should be reversed -- as the work of a lawyer representing a client rather than an expression of his personal views. It will be hard to do that with Alito's comments: When he said what he said in 1985, he was representing only himself.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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