Scalito: Beyond anti-choice

In addition to his indefensible opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Scalito’s record is chock-full of information that should make every woman in America shudder. Happy Halloween:
Gender Discrimination
Alito has ruled in favor of a plaintiff in a sex discrimination case only once. In most instances, Alito issued opinions that made it far more difficult for victims of discrimination to get to court and prove their cases. In one sexual harassment case, Robinson v. City of Pittsburgh, a police officer filed a complaint that her supervisor was “unhooking her bra, snapping her bra strap, touching her hair and ears, telling her ‘you stink pretty,’ making comments about the size of her breasts…” The police chief took no action, and Robinson sued. Alito ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the chief knew of the harassment, even though Robinson had filed a report. (Alito issued similar opinions in Sheridan v. DuPont and Watson v. SEPTA.) Alito also struck down the anti-harassment policy of the State College Area School District in Saxe v. State College Area Sch. Dist. He wrote that “There is no categorical ‘harassment exception’ to the First Amendment’s free speech clause.” In other words, “harassment is protected speech!
Family Leave
In 2000, Alito struck down portions of the Family and Medical Leave Act that would have allowed state employees to sue their states for failure to provide them with time off to care for family members. Alito wrote that a state’s refusal to provide family leave has no greater impact on women than on men. (Chittester v. Dept. of Cmty. and Econ. Dev.) When the Supreme Court addressed the issue in 2003, it took the opposite position: that the FMLA does remedy historic discrimination against women, and state employees should be allowed to sue their employers for failure to comply.
Violence Against Women
Alito ruled that female public-schoool students who were physically and sexually abused by fellow students in class could not sue the state, because the state has no special duty in caring for them. (D.R. v. Middle Bucks Area Vocational Tech. School) Alito also participated in a panel holding that the Violence Against Women Act allows a court to order HIV/AIDS testing of a sexual assault defendant. (United States v. Ward)
For more on Scalito’s record:
People for the American Way, Legal Momentum, Alliance for Justice and Legal Times.
UPDATE: Is That Legal? has the White House-approved responses to criticism of Alito’s record. (via LiberalOasis)

Join the Conversation

  • racya

    It seems to me that a lot of his more controversial rulings were eventually overturned by higher courts. I believe that a ruling that has to be overturned by a higher court shouldn’t have been made in the first place. It’s a waste of the court’s time. If upon further examination it turns out that this guy has had a lot of cases overturned in general beyond his more contrivertial cases, then it should be blatantly obvious that there has to be someone more qualified. But the meiers case should illistrate that qualification dosn’t mean a damn to the Bush administration.

  • B.D.

    I believe that if you take a look at his rulings on corporate matters, then you’ll understand why Bush favorably compared Alito to Miers. They are both corporate shills with Alito getting the trump card as also being offensive to individual freedoms.

  • TangoMan

    It could be that Rove is playing a deeper game here. Actually overturning RvW would probably send a number of complacent fencesitters on the abortion issue over to the democrats, and take the most fervent anti-abortion crusaders out of the political game because they had already won the grand prize. If this happens then Rove can kiss Republican majorities goodbye.
    However, the Miers fiasco showed that Rove can’t ignore the base. So what to do? Perhaps you pick a candidate who is solidly pro-life and that’s like throwing red meat to the base of starving wolves. The gamble is that this guy mustn’t pass through the confirmation process. How to insure that? Find that many of his other rulings will be troublesome to the Senators and reluctantly they’ll have to reject the nomination. This way Rove has thrown the base some scraps, insures that RvW continues to energize the base even after a more moderate candidate is eventually elevated to the SC.

  • bittergradstudent

    I don’t buy the argument that outlawing abortion would take the right wing nutbars out of the game. It would turn their focus from “outlawing abortion” to defending the status quo. I don’t really think that they would slow down at all.
    Moderates becoming democrats, I”m sure that that is true.

  • tfreridge

    I’m one of those who don’t believe that “advise and consent” means that the minority party gets to filibuster because of a philosophical disagreement.
    The Senate should allow the president to put into power people with the same beliefs he was elected to support. He did, after all, win the election and every person who voted for him knew that he could be decideing the makeup of the supreme court for the next 15-20 years. Let the will of the people be done. I don’t remember republicans filibustering over ruth bader ginsburg.
    Also, this guy is a lot like roberts, there’s no way he’s not going to be confirmed.

  • Kyra

    “He did, after all, win the election and every person who voted for him knew that he could be decideing the makeup of the supreme court for the next 15-20 years. Let the will of the people be done.”
    The will of the majority, you mean. Did the rest of us stop being people? Yes, the people who voted for him knew that he could be deciding the makeup of the Supreme Court for the next couple decades—so did the people who voted against him. He’s everybody’s President, whether we voted for him or not. We’re stuck with him, and he’s stuck with us. And he’s supposed to do a good job *for* all of us, uphold the rights of all of us, insure that being an American is a good thing, not a bad thing, for all of us.
    Not that he’s going to do any of this. Remember just after the last elections, when he said he was going to be a uniter, not a divider?
    One nation, under God’s Appointed Smirking Iron Fist. Bloody HELL.

  • Ryan

    If you desire a more comprehensive (and fairer) understanding about Alito’s decision in Chittester and O’Connor’s opinion in Hibbs (both regarding the FMLA) and the way precedent works to frame appellate court opinions, please read here:

  • puckalish

    The Senate should allow the president to put into power people with the same beliefs he was elected to support.

    umm… tfreridge, i think you’re from the u.s., right? you ever hear of something called “checks and balances”? one of these things that supposed to be somewhat, i dunno, democratic or something…
    the point is, the senate is charged with voting on confirming or not confirming s.c. justices for a reason (and they’ve rejected 30/144 since 1789 – that’s over 20% of appointees)…
    yeah, so, um, the president is not supposed to have unchecked power (although, since the 1950’s, congress has ceded more and more power to the executive branch)… and do i have to remind you that bush won just 51% of the popular vote? that’s not really a commanding “majority” although it does beat out his current approval ratings:
    CNN/USA Today/Gallup 10/28-30/05 41%App 56%Dis
    ABC/Washington Post 10/28-29/05 39%App 58%Dis
    FOX/Opinion Dynamics 10/25-26/05 41%App 51%Dis
    what is it that the american people want again?

  • Ann

    Ryan- Alito and I disagree on Congress’s intent in passing the FMLA. I think Congress acknowledged (and rightly so) that family leave policies- or lack thereof- have historically had greater adverse effects on women. From Alito’s Chittester opinion:

    “Notably absent is any finding concerning the existence, much less the prevalence, in public employment of personal sick leave practices that amounted to intentional gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

    I also think it’s significant that this makes it seem that Alito requires proof of intent- rather than disparate impact- to show discrimination.
    I read the Whelan piece in the National Review. It’s certainly more comprehensive than my post (after all, I only devoted a few sentences to the case), though I’d argue it isn’t fairer. I’m no lawyer, but it’s my understanding that Congress can abrogate a state’s 11th Amendment immunity if it violates the Equal Protection Clause. Failure to comply with FMLA is an attmempt to evade a Congressional remedy for discrimination. Therefore, fair game to sue the state.

  • Carmen Govani

    It not the aggression directed against someone who belongs to the certain circle which is under protection as discrimination on an age, sex, to race, creed or a nationality. The second reason is that such actions are not regarded till now as action on the workplaces, absolutely differing from sexual prosecution or discrimination. It is necessary to change the given hated trend radically! It is important for the future generations for the future will be such what now the present.

  • Life

    Operation of PBX telephones More than 220 foreign language speaking telephone operators were required to man the telephone exchanges. The recruiting and training of this number of operators with language qualification was a problem of some magnitude. The Committee accordingly entrusted the Tokyo PBX Federation, a special organization designed to train telephone operators, with the task of selecting and training the operators as well as with the operation of telephone exchanges during the Olympic Games.
    The Federation commenced its preparations in January 1964 under the guidance and cooperation of the NTT, some 223 operators at that time being selected from 3,000 applicants for their fluency in English and general intellectual and cultural backgrounds, and were trained in exchange techniques and English conversation for four months from April and received actual practical experience for two months (August and September) at telephone exchanges of commercial companies in Tokyo.
    In this way, the training of telephone operators for the Olympic Games proceeded steadily and adequate preparations for handling telephone calls in English were completed. Telephone operators versed in French, Spanish and other foreign languages were assigned to the Olympic Villages and the Press House where calls in foreign languages other than English were expected in greater numbers, and as a result no inconvenience appeared to be felt by the athletes, officials and reporters, and the entire telephone exchanges operation during the Games proceeded in a most efficient manner.
    Calls handled in foreign languages throughout the Games sites averaged some 12 percent of the total, and at the Press House, where more calls were handled in foreign languages, this percentage was nearer 48 percent. Telephone exchanges were operated for 24 hours a day at Olympic Villages, the Press Centre, Press House and Kishi Memorial Hall, while exchanges at the Games sites were operated from several hours before the Games and until one or two hours after the Games for that day had been completed.