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No Right To Abortion, Alito Wrote

Judge Samuel Alito, President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, wrote in 1985 that he's a lifelong conservative and that he believes "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

He also expressed opposition to racial and ethnic quotas.

Alito made the statements in a document that was part of his successful application for a job as a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration. The document (.pdf) was included in more than 100 pages of material about Alito released by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on Monday.

Alito said that he was proud of his work in the solicitor general's office from 1982-1985, where he helped "to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly."

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government argued that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," he said.

The document was first reported on by The Washington Times.

Abortion is expected to be a key issue when Alito appears for his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January. Last week, senators said Alito, 55, told them the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion deserves "great respect" but that he would not commit to upholding it in the future.

A key Republican moderate senator voiced concern with Alito's 1985 statements.

"As a pro-choice senator, I could not disagree more with the proposition that the Constitution does not guarantee a woman's right to have an abortion," said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Me.

"Obviously, I want to know whether he still harbors this personal view and, if so, whether his service as a judge over the past 15 years will enable him to put aside his personal feelings and faithfully apply established precedent in a fair manner," said Snowe.

Some abortion rights groups already have come out against Alito because of his work as a federal appellate judge, including a dissent on a U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down a law requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

Recently confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts also worked for the Justice Department, but argued during his confirmation that his work was just a lawyer representing his government client.

"Unlike Chief Justice John Roberts, Alito says these are his own strong personal views, and not just those of the administration he was working for," said Ralph Neas, head of the liberal People for the American Way. "Combined with his judicial record, Judge Alito's letter underscores our concern that he would vote to turn back the clock on decades of judicial precedent protecting privacy, equal opportunity, religious freedom, and so much more."

Alito's supporters say the judge's statement from 1985 shouldn't be held against him.

"For pro-choice extremists and other liberal activists to say that this legal statement by Judge Alito in 1985 somehow disqualifies him from serving as a Supreme Court justice is absurd," said Wendy Long, lawyer for the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network. "Justice (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and Justice (Stephen) Breyer had taken clear public positions to the contrary, and no one argued that those positions should be held against them."

In the document, Alito declared himself a "lifelong registered" Republican and a Federalist Society member, and said he had donated money to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Conservative Political Action Committee and several GOP candidates.

When he wrote this document, he was working as an assistant to the solicitor general, where he stayed from 1981 to 1987. Although he sought the job of deputy assistant attorney general in 1985, he did not win that job until 1987.

"I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration," Alito said.

He wrote that he believed "very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values."

Alito also expounded on the conservative thinkers who influenced his intellectual development.

"When I first became interested in government and politics during the 1960s, the greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley Jr., the National Review, and Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign," he wrote.

President Bush nominated Alito to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key vote on areas like abortion restrictions, the death penalty, campaign finance, affirmative action and states' rights.