Anti-Scalito Camp Gets Vocal

Texas Coalition for an Independent Judiciary voices opposition to Alito's Supreme Court bid with a stack of petitions containing more than 15,000 signatures

To mark the start of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's senate confirmation hearings, representatives of the 12-organization-strong Texas Coalition for an Independent Judiciary on Jan. 9 voiced their opposition to Alito's bid with a stack of petitions containing more than 41,000 signatures, which they delivered to the Austin, Dallas, and Houston offices of Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who sits on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee charged with vetting Alito's bid to replace retiring high court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Although the petitions are unlikely to sway Cornyn's apparent support for Alito, the TCIJ – which includes NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and People for the American Way – isn't the only group concerned with Alito's views on issues such as civil liberties and reproductive rights. Last week, 500 law school professors signed on to a letter addressed to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chair of the Judiciary Committee, and to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee's ranking minority member, explaining their opposition. The letter, signed Jan. 5, describes Alito, who has served on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for 15 years, as a jurist with a "record of trying to push the law sharply to the right." Although President George W. Bush pledged to nominate a justice who "embraces the principle of judicial restraint" to replace the centrist O'Connor, the lawyers wrote, "Alito often reaches his [legal] conclusions by overturning or weakening federal statutes, diminishing constitutional safeguards, and hollowing out precedent." Among the signatories are three professors from the University of Houston Law Center and two from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio. Interestingly, no UT Law professors signed on to the opposition letter. To read it, go to www.allianceforjustice.org.

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