Alito’s Colleagues on Alito: “Radical,” “Unwise,” “Ignores Precedent”

During his tenure on 3rd Circuit many of Samuel Alito’s opinions have been roundly criticized by other judges. This is particularly true in civil rights cases. In such cases Alito has been repeatedly criticized, not for being conservative, but for being unfaithful to the law. Here’s a sample:

“What [Judge Alito] proposes to do in [his] holding is effectively have courts take a back seat to bureaucratic agencies in protecting constitutional liberties. This . . . is a radical and unwise redefinition of the relationship between federal courts and federal agencies . . . .” (Grant v. Shalala, 1993) (Judge Leon Higginbotham)

“We suggest that to read [as Judge Alito does] the ‘no reasonable adjudicator’ standard in a way that does away with the need for ‘substantial evidence’ not only guts the statutory standard, but ignores our precedent.” (Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003) (Judge Marjorie Rendell)

“I disagree with [Judge Alito’s] holding that a union has ‘actual authority’ to waive its members’ Fourth Amendment rights bound only by the fair representation doctrine. . . . This sweeping assertion divests all public sector employees of their Fourth Amendment rights and strains to make legitimate that which clearly is not.” (Bolden v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority, 1991) (Judge Richard Nygaard)


“[Judge Alito’s] position would immunize an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate, was the result of conscious racial bias. . . . Title VII would be eviscerated if our analysis were to halt where [Judge Alito’s] dissent suggests.” (Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997) (Judge Theodore McKee)

“[Judge Alito] gives no reason why a plaintiff alleging discrimination is not entitled to the real reason for the personnel decision, no matter how uncomfortable the truth may be to the employer. Surely, the judicial system has little to gain by [Judge Alito’s] approach.” (Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 1996) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)

“[Judge Alito’s] attempt to analogize the statistical evidence of the use of peremptory challenges to strike black jurors to the percent of left-handed presidents requires some comment. [Judge Alito] has overlooked the obvious fact that there is no provision in the Constitution that protects persons from discrimination based on whether they are right-handed or left-handed. To suggest any comparability to the striking of jurors based on their race is to minimize the history of discrimination against prospective black jurors and black defendants . . . .” (Riley v. Taylor, 2001) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)

“[Judge Alito’s] decision overturning the District Court’s grant of a writ of habeas corpus and rejecting [the defendant’s] claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is inexplicable in light of the Supreme Court’s most recent application of Strickland in Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003), under circumstances remarkably similar to those presented here.” (Rompilla v. Horn, 2004) (Judge Dolores Sloviter)