Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito a disaster on the most practical of levels

If you read the mainstream media coverage of Samuel Alito, you'll learn a lot about how he is "soft-spoken" and "congenial." You won't read as much in their coverage about the sort of impact he will have if he is confirmed to the country's highest court. Here's an idea from a blogger on the Daily Kos of the practical effect Alito's ideology will have on the average American:
In 2000, Judge Samuel Alito authored an opinion in which he concluded that Congress did not have the power to require state employers to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act. This ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003, with a 6-3 margin. Voting in dissent? That's right, everyone's favorite activist justice, Antonin Scalia. Now why should this somewhat arcane labor issue be of interest to me, particularly in light of Alito's involvement in the much more controversial and interesting Casey decision? Well, I am an employee of the state of Washington. Had Alito and Scalia gotten their way, my employers could have denied me leave, and I wouldn't be in the position I am now--able to provide assistance to my disabled sister and brother-in-law while he fights for his life against an aggressive and deadly lymphoma.

I don't know whether Alito is a self-avowed "structuralist" or "textualist" like Antonin Scalia, but as it appears that his rulings follow that mold, it should be noted that these judges have no problem striking down acts of Congress that they don't like. In their view, issues like abortion should be up to a legislature that reflects the popular mandate of the people as the Constitution would dictate. At the same time, they strike down clean air and violence against women laws passed by Congress. Seems kind of arbitrary and not very principled, no?

Anyway, I would rather see a mainstream media organ investigate this apparent contradiction over writing about Alito's congenial personality. Myself and the millions of other Americans who will be affected by this man will never personally meet him; why should we care what he is like?


Mike said...

Burns my bacon that someone would be against established law on family leave. Lymphoma patients need good caregivers, I know that firsthand.

Elaine said...

Hi Mike,
I'm sorry that you've had to experience being a caregiver firsthand. I can't understand why a judge would have the need to strike down a family leave law.
It seems to me like Alito and his ilk would like to take our country back to a time when there was vast labor unrest because there were minimal if any protections for workers.
Thanks for your comment!