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Monday, October 31, 2005

More Alito Cases

I have to break this up a little, or Blogger gets ill. NPR has a selection of Alito cases at its website. The first one that really interested me was a First Amendment case out of Pennsylvania. You can read Pitt News here (pdf). NPR's summary:
In July 2004, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled that a Pennsylvania law prohibiting student newspapers from running ads for alcohol was unconstitutional. At issue was Act 199, an amendment to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code passed in 1996 that denied student newspapers advertising revenue from alcoholic beverages.

Alito said the law violated the First Amendment rights of the student newspaper, The Pitt News, from the University of Pittsburgh.

Opinion Excerpt: "If government were free to suppress disfavored speech by preventing potential speakers from being paid, there would not be much left of the First Amendment."
True. It's comforting that he takes it seriously. If you doubt what he is saying, consider a corresponding hypothetical: What if the PA legislature had tried to ban college newspapers from accepting ads from women's health clinics offering abortions and birth control, such as Planned Parenthood?

The decision is a good example because Alito wrote it and it is relatively short (17 pages). He writes clearly, analyzes the case carefully, and supports each of his determinations with appropriate precedent. This is consistent with the other decisions of his I have skimmed. So far I am very favorably impressed.

Next up a case on sex discrimination, Sheridan V. Dupont (txt) and Dingo's Fourth Amendment case, Doe V Groody (pdf, 20 pgs). Dingo thinks this case is terrible; a mother and a child were strip-searched during a search. I'll cover those later.

Ann Althouse writes of another mildly controversial decision I'll call Chittister:
This is stunningly well and concisely written and quite correct, though it is not the position the Court ultimately took in Nevada Department of Human Resources v Hibbs. I have a law review article on Hibbs, which you can read in PDF here. Alito took the position Justice Kennedy took in dissent in Hibbs. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion, which purported to apply Boerne and Kimel, but most certainly did not. You can argue that Boerne and Kimel were wrongly decided, but Alito was bound by them and duly and competently applied them. Anyone who tries to say that Alito is hostile to women's rights because of this decision is utterly wrong.
Alito is a very impressive jurist. I appreciate his logic, clarity and careful explication of the principles involved in these cases. I write compliance software for banks, and this sort of writing is a great aid to anyone who is trying to apply court decisions - a very important consideration for a Supreme Court Justice.


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