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Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. is a current Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Samuel Alito was born in Trenton, New Jersey and raised in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. He received his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and his Juris Doctor at Yale Law School. Before becoming a Justice, he worked as New Jersey’s district Assistant U.S. Attorney, Assistant to Solicitor General Rex Lee, Deputy Assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese, and the U.S. Attorney for the New Jersey district. He was nominated on February 20, 1990 by President George H. W. Bush to the Third Circuit  of the U.S. Court of appeals. In 2005, Samuel Alito then received President George W. Bush’s nomination for the Supreme Court.  He began serving on the court since January 31, 2006.
Throughout his first term, Samuel Alito voted rather conservatively, with his opinion aligning well with other conservative justices such as Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Scalia. This was seen particularly in the cases Garcetti v. Ceballos, Rapanos v. United States, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.  However, many of his opinions have also diverged from this. In his first decision on the Supreme Court, Alito’s vote was in the 6-3 majority to refuse the request by Missouri to vacate the stay of execution that was issued by the 8th Circuit court for a death-row inmate. 
Furthermore, it seems that Samuel Alito believes that restrictions on an abortion procedure are constitutionally allowed, but he has not indicated a desire to overturn Roe v. Wade. His stance came into play in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, which was a lawsuit that came out of the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act which was passed by congress. A previous ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart stated that this ban was unconstitutional because it did not allow for an exception to be made if the mother’s health was in danger.   The Supreme Court handed down a ruling on April 18, 2007 with a five-justice majority opinion that stated that Congress had the power to overall ban the procedure, although the court allowed for certain challenges. Samuel Alito was a part of this majority while a concurring opinion was filed by Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, which felt that prior court decisions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade should be reversed and that Congress was overexerting its powers under the Commerce Clause. 
In the 2005 term, Samuel Alito’s views have differed from those of Justice Scalia much more significantly. Justice Scalia is very adamant on his reliance of legislative history when interpreting legislation and the Constitution. He was the only justice in Zedner v. United States to not join any section of Samuel Alito’s opinion which discussed the legislative history of the specific legislation in the case. In Randall v. Sorrell and LULAC v. Perry, two other significant cases that involved the constitutionality of campaign finance reform and political gerrymandering, Samuel Alito declined to join the stronger positions shown by either sides of the Supreme Court.
In the landmark 2007 case Morse v. Frederick which looked at free speech, Samuel Alito joined Chief Justice Roberts’ majority decision stating that speech advocating drug use could be banned in public schools, but emphasized that the decision could not interfere with political speech, like a debate regarding medical marijuana.
A third influential majority opinion by Alito was in the Gomez-Perez v. Potter, a 2008 worker protection case that helped federal workers who dealt with retaliation after filing complaints of age discrimination. Alito sided with the more liberal Justices, and agreed with needed protection against this retaliation despite the explicit provision concerning retaliation not existing.