December 13, 2005: NORTON AND CBC WANT MEETING ON ALITO WITH GANG OF 14 THIS WEEK

Jan 9, 2006
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2005

NORTON AND CBC WANT MEETING ON ALITO WITH GANG OF 14 THIS WEEK

"Major Race Cases Likely to be Overturned"

December 13, 2005. U.S. Representative Melvin L. Watt, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman, today released a letter addressed individually to each of the "Gang of 14" senators who may hold the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito in their hands, urgently requesting a meeting with the bipartisan group this week. The letter, signed by Chairman Watt and CBC Judicial Nominations Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton, said that Judge Alito would "radically change the Court and bring down 50 years of race discrimination jurisprudence."

Citing Judge Alito’s record of dissents in race cases, the Caucus is particularly concerned that major race cases decided 5-4 would be overturned because Judge Alito would be less constrained by stare decisis if promoted to the high court. Chairman Watt and Congresswoman Norton cited Judge Alito’s role as a consistent dissenter from his Third Circuit colleagues as evidence that he is a hard-right judge who would endanger federal statutes in many areas of American life and said he was particularly unsuited to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The full text of the CBC letter follows:

December 12, 2005

The Honorable Ken Salazar

United States Senate

702 Senate Hart Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Salazar:

In a unanimous vote of its 42 House members, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) asked that Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, CBC Judicial Nominations Chair, and I seek a meeting with the bipartisan group of 14 Senators whose votes could prove decisive on the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito. The Caucus recently took the unusual step of opposing Judge Alito’s nomination before the Senate confirmation hearings, but only after reviewing his extensive writings as a judge and as a high-level Justice Department lawyer, and only after our repeated requests failed to result in a meeting with the Judge. Our evaluation of Judge Alito as a hard-right judge comes as much from the views of his colleagues on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who in their opinions have criticized his many dissents, as from our own reading of the cases.

If the Senate values its own work on federal statutes in many areas of American life, it will find unacceptable Judge Alito’s record as a frequent dissenter in commerce clause and other cases of long established congressional authority to enact laws benefiting Americans of every background. However, the CBC urgently asks for this meeting with you because Judge Alito’s record on race in particular shows a consistent pattern of hostility to race discrimination cases and remedies. At stake is the most important work of the Supreme Court and the Congress in seeking to eliminate discrimination in voting, employment and other critical areas where Judge Alito has left no doubt in his dissents that he seeks reversal of equal opportunity law and jurisprudence. If he is promoted to the Supreme Court, where stare decisis is less constraining, he will be in a position to make his dissenting views the law of the land, and we have no doubt that racial progress itself would be reversed. As it is, much of this progress in our country today hangs on 5-4 decisions. Particularly viewed in light of the O’Connor seat that Judge Alito would fill, a vote for Judge Alito is a vote to radically change the Court and bring down 50-years of race discrimination jurisprudence. Our country goes in that direction on race at its peril.

We will call to request a convenient time for the bipartisan group of which you are a part to meet and listen to our urgent concerns this week.

Sincerely,

Melvin L. Watt Eleanor Holmes Norton

Chair, CBC CBC Judicial Nominations Chair