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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Supreme Court of the United States
Confirmed January 31, 2006

Samuel Alito

On January 31, 2006, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was confirmed by a 58-42 vote to serve a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court. Link to testimony here.  Click here to read Earthjustice's statement on Alito's confirmation.  

On December 20, 2005, Earthjustice and four other national environmental groups announced formal opposition to the nomination of Judge Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. This was the first time since the 1987 nomination of Robert Bork that Earthjustice -- or any national environmental group -- opposed a Supreme Court nominee.

Earthjustice did not make this decision lightly. Judge Alito has a 15-year record of judicial activism. His record suggests that he will spend the next several decades legislating from the bench, dismantling laws opposed by corporate special interests that protect the health and safety of families and communities.

Judge Alito joined in a 2-1 ruling that denied citizens' access to courts under the Clean Water Act, which authorizes "any citizen" to bring a civil enforcement action against alleged polluters. Judge Alito ruled that a citizen group did not have standing to sue because it had not demonstrated that serious harm to the environment had occurred, despite the fact that the trial court had imposed a rare $2.6 million fine for the company's violations of the Act. The Supreme Court has since rejected Alito's analysis.

Alito also wrote a dissent that would have unjustifiably restricted Congress' authority under the "Commerce Clause" (which is the basis for most federal environmental laws) when he claimed that the law prohibiting the possession of machine guns was unconstitutional. Conservative Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn denounced Judge Alito's opinion as "wrong," and called it "legislating" from the bench.

Read more about Judge Alito's views on:

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gavel icon Press Releases:

Alito Confirmation is a Major Setback for Public Health, Environment (01/31/06)
Clean water cases could be first test of Alito's Supreme Court stance

More than 50 Environmental & Conservation Groups Oppose Alito (01/24/06)
More than 50 Environmental and Conservation Groups Oppose Alito

Earthjustice Opposes Judge Alito's Nomination to the Supreme Court (12/20/05)
First environmental opposition to Supreme Court nominee since Bork in 1987

Halloween Supreme Court Nomination is a Scary Choice (10/31/05)
Judge Alito could undermine laws that safeguard health and environment

President Bush’s Supreme Court Nomination Needs Careful Review (07/19/05)
Senate must ensure that Judge John Roberts will not unfairly strike down environmental safeguards

gavel icon Reports & Analysis:

Testimony of Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Legal Correspondent,
"In addition to the trend toward overruling precedent by stealth, the court has been able to make dramatic changes without even a modicum of drama by chipping away at our access to the courts. Be it through the doctrines of constitutional “standing” or “ripeness,” by virtually doing away with facial constitutional challenges, or by subtly shifting the burden of proof on plaintiffs – it is becoming materially harder for victims of any sort of injustice or discrimination to access the very protections this congress has enacted. ... from environmental protections to worker protections, to civil rights legislation, Congressional guarantees of equal justice are only as robust as a citizen’s power to march into a courtroom. That doorway gets narrower every year."

Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and the Environment Post-Hearing Talking Points
Reasons why environmental organizations oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Alito’s Nomination Threatens Safeguards for the Environment and Public Health
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s record indicates that his nomination to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court endangers laws that Americans rely upon, including fundamental safeguards for public health and the environment.

Judge Alito’s Nomination Threatens Access to Justice
As a Supreme Court justice, Judge Alito could essentially rewrite the Constitution to establish new barriers to justice for people who want to ensure that environmental laws are upheld and enforced.