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Alito Should Be Proud of His Convictions

If you’re an out-of-the-closet conservative looking for a lot of friends, don’t move to Chapel Hill, N.C.  Or agree to be a Supreme Court nominee.  Despite being a minority in Chapel Hill, this author was always true to his beliefs.  He credits his conservatism to his parents who raised him with conservative principles and told him to always stand up for his beliefs.  Too bad Sam Alito wasn’t raised the same way.

As a high school freshman, this author billed himself as a pro-life, pro-gun, limited-government JFK Democrat.  Even though one was a minority “Democrat” on these issues, he was still part of the “in crowd” at Chapel Hill High.  Yours Truly was the proverbial frosh trying to “fit in”.  Until one day, while debating the issues in civics class, the teacher called Yours Truly a Republican.  When Your Truly protested, the teacher explained that as a pro-life gunslinger, Yours Truly was too conservative to be called a “Democrat.”  It was then that Yours Truly realized that JFK Democrats went by a new title — Reagan Republicans.  From that day forward, this author proudly identified as a conservative, and when 18 rolled around, registered as a Republican.  Since then, the conservative label has been one of immense pride.

This brings us to Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.  Alito is known as an established conservative, a devout Catholic, and a true legal scholar.  Or so he was.  That is, until the National Archives proved the labels given to Alito with the release of his records of his time in the Reagan Justice Department.  In a 1985 memo, Alito expressed pride in his work for Reagan in the pro-life cause, and advised the White House on how to execute a “frontal assault” on Roe.  Oddly, Alito seems to be afraid of himself.  He told countless liberal senators, such as Charles Schumer, that he “respected precedent,” and further, that his Catholic faith would have no bearing on his decisions as a Supreme Court justice.  Such comments leads conservatives such as this one to question that if his heart and interpretation of the Constitution (in which abortion rights are nowhere to be found) will not guide his rulings, what will?  International precedent?  Does anyone smell Souter?  Furthermore, precedent, if wrongly decided, holds little meaning, as history shows.  Plessy, precedent for almost sixty years, was a legal atrocity that permitted Jim Crow, but the Warren Court overturned it in its 1954 Brown decision, simply because it was the right thing to do.

Unlike Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle, who proudly call themselves Catholic when they despise the Vatican, Alito seems to embrace the church while despising the Catholic label.  Needless to say, it is doubtful that Benedict XVI has plans to host Uncle Ted for dinner anytime soon.  But it is disconcerting that Alito is somehow distancing himself from his true colors in order to plant a big kiss on Schumer’s fanny.  The ironic part is that there is no need of it; Republicans control the Senate.

It is evident that Alito plans to downplay his conservatism, insofar as his remarks thus far seem to suggest an effort on his part to do so.  At least Ginsburg had the gumption to proudly proclaim she was a liberal nut and a litigator for the ACLU.  Despite disagreeing with Ginsburg’s interpretation of the Constitution, conservatives must admire her openness about being a far-left liberal.  It seems that the public would rather a former ACLU litigator sitting on the Supreme Court than a seemingly insecure conservative that wants to please Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton.

It is time for Samuel Alito to stop his effort to appear “moderate” and “centrist” in order to please senators who wouldn’t vote for a Bush Supreme Court nominee regardless of the person.  Alito’s record is one of honor, strength and conviction, and one that nobody should ever try to minimize.  A man who stands on his convictions will be respected far more than a man who alters them to please everybody.

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Mr. Lewis is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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