Dishonoring Rosa Parks
November 4, 2005 - 11:19am ET
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On Monday, Judge Samuel Alito, President Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, attended the Rosa Parks viewing at the Capitol Rotunda. While on the surface this is a sweet gesture, it seems like a purely political ploy to me.
Parks was a part of a well-organized civil rights movement. She was tired of being denied equal access and equal opportunity because of her race. When she refused to give up her seat in the back of that Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, what she did was refuse to continue being treated like a second-class citizen.
On the other hand, there's Alito—dubbed "Scalito" by conservatives for his similar views to Justice Antonin Scalia. Since his appointment by George H.W. Bush in 1990, Alito has made decisions that are in direct opposition to what Parks fought for.
According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Alito's rulings show "a disturbing pattern of making it harder for victims of discrimination to prove their case. Particularly troubling are Alito's rulings on states' rights (i.e. restricting Congress' ability to protect civil rights and liberties), race and gender discrimination, and police misconduct."
Dissenting opinion in Doe v. Groody, saying police were justified in strip-searching a drug dealing suspect's wife and daughter even though they were not mentioned in the warrant. Alito argued that “even if the warrant did not contain authorization, a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant therefore the appellants are entitled to qualified immunity.”
Sole dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, arguing that requiring women to obtain spousal permission before having an abortion would not place an undue burden on a woman's constitutional rights. He also argued that reasons for an abortion such as "economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition . . . may be obviated by discussion prior to abortion."
Sole dissenting opinion in Glass v. Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO). Mr. Glass worked at PECO for 23 years, obtained two engineering degrees, and only received one negative job evaluation in 1984-86. He sued for racial and age discrimination after applying for promotions several times and being rejected. At trial, PECO claimed the rejections came from the negative evaluation. When Glass tried to present evidence to counter PECO's claim, the trial judge refused. The decision was reversed on appeal but Alito, the sole dissenter, argued that Glass telling his side of the story could cause “substantial unfair prejudice.” He also argued that the trial judge's decision was harmless.
Sole dissenting opinion in Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., in which Ms. Sheridan sued for sex discrimination after being rejected for a promotion. The majority of the Third Circuit adopted a standard that would make it easier for someone alleging discrimination to present sufficient evidence to bring a case to trial. Alito argued for more stringent standards before a case could make trial. This would make it more difficult for discrimination victims to prove their case before court.
Alito, for the most part, has a track record that is out of step with the memory and legacy of Rosa Parks as well as the men and women who came before and after her. If he truly wants to honor her memory, he should make decisions that would show his dedication to civil rights goes beyond a photo op.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future