Alito passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote. Thus, even if you know very little about the guy, there's a pretty good chance that somebody has told you what to think about him. In order to give you a better reason to feel however you feel, I've pulled facts from a few of Alito's opinions. Is Alito the sort of guy you think he is?
All of the following come from various opinions by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Your job is 1) to guess how he ruled on them, and 2) state how your ideal Supreme Court nominee would have ruled. I've skipped over most of the cases that turn on an obscure bit of the law for the less legally inclined. I've included citations for the legally inclined. Write your answers in this forum thread. When people have a few days to guess/weigh in, I'll post the answers.
1) Mr. Abdul-Aziz and Mr. Mustafa are Sunni Muslims and police officers. The police department has a regulation that says you cannot wear a beard except for medical reasons (e.g. a skin condition). As Sunni Muslims, the two men are required to grow beards. They claim that the police department should be required to make an exception in their case. How did Alito rule?
(See 170 F.3d 359)
2) Mr. Oyebanji was driving recklessly, killed somebody, and was convicted of vehicular homicide. He came from Nigeria but now is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. At least he was. The Board of Immigration Appeals has determined that the vehicular homicide is a "crime of violence," and thus ground for deportation. Mr. Oyebanji argues that the law allowing deportation for "crimes of violence" shouldn't apply to him because he didn't intend to hurt anybody. Is vehicular homicide a "crime of violence"? How did Alito rule?
(See 418 F.3d 260)
3) In Stafford, community organizations are allowed to distribute fliers to teachers who distribute them to students, so long as the fliers relate to "school matters or pupil-related activities," are not partisan or otherwise political, do not come from the school staff, and are approved by the superintendent. The superintendent's is usually a rubber-stamp and there have been no problem with fliers from the Boy Scouts, 4-H, etc.. There are similar rules regarding having informational tables at "Back to School Night" or posting materials on the school walls. Now the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a "Bible-centered, worldwide organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living" wants to send a flier about it's "Good News Club." The flier clearly states that it is not a school sponsored activity. The superintendent rejects this request. Child Evangelism sues saying that its free speech rights are violated. Is Child Evangelism likely to succeed on its claim? How did Alito Rule?
(See 386 F.3d 514)
4) Xiu Ling Zhang, a Chinese citizen, has three children. Unsurprisingly, this does not sit well with China's one child policy. Zhang sought asylum in the United States. She brought with her records of 1) a fine for the unauthorized removal of an IUD, 2) a fine for "attempt to give birth secretly", 3) a record of an (allegedly forced) "Abortion Operation and IUD installation", and 4) a notice that she was required to pay another large fine and appear for a sterilization procedure or "[we] will be force[d] to complete the sterilization operation, and punish severely as well." These documents were not authenticated by the U.S. Consulate in China because, as the immigration judge said, "it's almost impossible to get that actually done." The immigration judge later denied her application for asylum because her testimony was "unbelievable". Zhang now claims that the immigration judge did not properly consider her documentary evidence. There is no stated reason for doubting the authenticity of the records. Should Zhang have another hearing where her documents will be considered? How did Alito rule?
(See 405 F.3d 150)
5) Cai Luan Chen is the fiancé of a woman who was treated similarly to Xia Ling Zhang above. Here, the immigration judge granted the asylum request for his fiancé but rejected it for him because they were not actually married. Mr. Chen argues that he would have married her, except that China had denied his marriage application because he was younger than 25. The Board of Immigration Appeals rejected his application for asylum. Was it reasonable for the BIA to deny his petition? How did Alito rule?
(See 381 F.3d 221)
6) Dennis Blackhawk owns two black bears, which he uses in Lakota religious ceremonies. Pennsylvania law says that you must have a "menagerie" or "exotic wildlife dealer" permit to keep the bears on his properties. This permit costs $200 a year, although the fee is waved for most zoos and "where hardship or extraordinary circumstance warrants." Blackhawk pays the fee under protest one year. When his request for waiver is denied, the Game Commission filed charges and Blackhawk was fined $178,400 (which was later reduced to $6,442. The bears were taken away, but in the process one of them managed to bite a Game Commission official. The Game Commission tried to have the bears decapitated for a rabies test, but a court stopped them and ordered the bears return. Blackhawk has sued asking for 1) a waiver of the permit fee and 2) damages from the people who took the bears away. Does the permit fee violate free exercise of religion? Is Blackhawk entitled to damages from the Game Commission officials? How did Alito rule?
(See 381 F.3d 202)
7) A Pennsylvania law bans alcohol advertisements in college publications. The Pitt News, a University of Pittsburgh student newspaper, lost a lot of revenue because of this. They claim this ban violates their free speech rights. Does it? How did Alito rule?
(See 379 F.3d 96)
8) Phillip Reardon was an alcoholic. For some reason he abducted a 79-year-old woman. He duct-taped her mouth shut. She died of asphyxiation. He dumped her body somewhere, and stole her watch, wallet, and diamond ring, partially severing her finger in the process. He pawned the ring and went shopping. Police arrested him and read him his rights. Police were not satisfied with whatever story he made up. Reardon said, "If I tell you the truth, can I have a drink?" The police agreed and Reardon told them the full story. Reardon was convicted. On the appeal, Reardon claimed his confession was involuntary. Was his confession involuntary? How did Alito rule?
(See 82 Fed. Appx. 273)
9) A man was murdered at a bus stop. One witness first claimed that the he saw a blue car with a white driver fleeing the scene but later decided it was a gray car with a black driver. This witness identified Ronald Williams, a black man. During jury selection, all jurors testified essentially that their judgment would not be clouded by racial bias. After he was convicted, he presented evidence that members of the jury had called another member of the jury "a n----- lover" an told her "I hope your daughter marries one of them." Additionally, she was told by an alternate that Williams was "wanted in other states and if we don't get them another state would ...[Williams] was going to die anyway ... his black ass was cooked anyway." The state court didn't accept this evidence. In this appeal, Williams claims that the jurors perjured themselves during voire dire and he should be entitled to a hearing on whether this harmed his case. Should it be? How did Alito rule?
(See 343 F.3d 223)
10) Pauline Thomas worked as a housekeeper until she had a heart attack. She then worked as an elevator operator for seven years until her job was eliminated. She applied for social security disability benefits based on cardiac problems, back problems, and a fractured right ankle. The Commissioner of Social Security determined that she was not disabled (and thus not eligible for benefits) because she could still perform her past work as an elevator operator. Thus, the administrative judge did not reach the question of whether she would be able to obtain other work. Thomas argued that she could not continue work as an elevator operator because the job "elevator operator" had essentially vanished from the national economy. Was she properly denied benefits? How did Alito rule?
(See 294 F.3d 568)