Sam Alito, the anti-Grinch

He'll gut Roe! He'll save Christmas!

By Tim Grieve

Published December 6, 2005 6:43PM (EST)

As a lawyer in the Solicitor General's Office, Sam Alito laid out a plan for gutting the protections of Roe v. Wade. As if news of that 1985 memo weren't enough, leaders on the right have come up with another way to sell Alito to the faithful: He's the man who will save Christmas!

As the New York Times reports today, a radio spot produced by the conservative Committee for Justice suggests that Alito will stop "liberal groups like People for the American Way and the ACLU" from prevailing in their "radical agenda" to ban Christmas in public places. Another ad, purchased by the conservative Catholic group Fidelis, says: "Judge Alito ruled against the ACLU's attempt to scrub away our religious heritage."

It's a reference, apparently, to a 1998 case in which Alito said it was permissible for Jersey City to erect a holiday display that included a creche, a menorah, statutes of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, a sleigh and a sign about diversity. And if you can't believe that anyone is actually focused on this at a time when people are dying in Iraq and the United States is shuffling the detainees in its secret prisons to spare the secretary of state any undue embarrassment, well, get used to it.

"This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year -- the convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression," says Jay Sekulow, who is advising the White House on ways to build support for its judicial nominees.

Tim Grieve

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

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