Alito - A legacy for our daughters? - Women and the Law
It is finally clear that George Bush pays about as much attention to the concerns of his female constituency as George Steinbrenner does to the opinions of his Yankee managers.
Polling has consistently reflected significant public interest in replacing Justice O'Connor with another woman. A July 15, 2005 CBS poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans think it is important to name another woman to replace O'Connor. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of the same date also reflected overwhelming interest in a female replacement for the retiring O'Connor. Eighty percent of those polled said that they favored a woman replacing O'Connor.
Bush's first choice, Harriet Miers was denounced as being unqualified. Rather than replacing her with one of the many undeniably qualified female candidates, the President nominated a conservative white male - Samuel A. Alito, Jr. in direct contravention to public opinion that this seat on the Supreme Court should be filled by a female Justice. As the confirmation hearings continue, women's groups around the country are apopletic.
In an Dec. 15, 2005 analysis entitled "The Nomination of Samuel Alito: A Watershed Moment For Women" The National Women's Law Center concludes that confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, will result in "core legal rights for women would be endangered, with profound and harmful consequences for women across the country and for decades to come."
Although space doesn't allow a comprehensive review of his record, the two biggest areas of concern cited are women's reproductive rights (Roe v. Wade), and legal protections against discrimination. Judge Alito's record in these areas is starkly different than that of Justice O'Connor, who has advanced critical rights for women during her tenure on the Supreme Court.
Justice O'Connor supported women's reproductive rights including protecting the right of choice. In an application for a key post in the Reagan administration's Justice Department, Alito wrote: "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court . . . that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Justice O'Connor served as a voice on the Court for strong protections against sex discrimination, and cast the decisive vote upholding affirmative action in higher education. Alito's record is also troubling in many areas of the law crucial to addressing discrimination against women, particularly in the area of employment discrimination.
If Judge Alito is confirmed, the first female Justice of the Supreme Court will be replaced by a Justice whose ideology and beliefs endanger the very rights that O"Connor has stood for.
Julie Kohler, a Woodbridge resident, is an attorney and of counsel to Cohen and Wolf, P.C. in Bridgeport. She can be contacted at email@example.com or 203-337-4157.