When Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. accepted his nomination to the Supreme Court with President Bush standing over his shoulder like a proud father, Alito dropped an unsubtle hint that he will be tough to mess with. “I argued my first case before the Supreme Court in 1982, and I still vividly recall that day,” said Alito, who was put on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, by Bush’s father. Underscore “first”; this is a lawyer who’s been in the end zone before.
With his nomination of Harriet Miers, who had little experience with constitutional law, Bush went with advice that he pick someone from outside the “judicial monastery.” This time, the President went with one of the high priests.
As assistant to the solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, Alito argued 12 cases before the Supremes, and has presented at least two dozen before federal courts of appeal. And while a limited paper trail was one of the Democrats’ few quibbles with the record of Judge John Roberts as he was being considered for chief justice, Alito has a four-lane highway of writings: opinions on the Commerce Clause; the First Amendment (free speech, establishment clause and free exercise clause); the Fourth, Eighth and Eleventh amendments; and the Fourteenth Amendment (procedural due process and substantive due process).
Oh, and then there are his writings on administrative law, criminal law, immigration, the False Claims Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and securities and prison litigation.