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20-Year-Old Document Provides New Hints About Alito...s Beliefs

By Michael Kranish

Samuel A. Alito Jr., the nominee for the Supreme Court, wrote in a 1985 application for a senior position in the Reagan administration that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

Calling himself a lifelong conservative Republican, Alito also said that he was proud of fighting what he described as “racial and ethnic quotas.”

The release of the document, from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Monday, provided the clearest glimpse yet into Alito’s views on major social issues. Leading Democrats and some Republicans immediately said they would question Alito closely about the statements at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in January.

“I am and always have been a conservative,” Alito wrote in a 1985 application.

Alito was seeking a political appointment to a higher job in the Reagan Justice Department.

“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.

Describing his role as assistant to the solicitor general in the Reagan Justice Department, Alito made clear that he was doing more than arguing the case of his employer, the US government, and that he personally agreed with Reagan’s positions.

Alito wrote that he was honored 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 has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

While Alito has told some senators that he has respect for the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, he has also left unclear his potential rulings on abortion cases.

The document provided an unusually detailed insight into the development of Alito’s political thinking, especially how he came to view himself as a “conservative … lifelong registered Republican,” as he wrote.

He said he had given money to Republican candidates, had regularly attended lunches of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, a conservative organization, and had submitted articles for publication in two conservative magazines, National Review and The American Spectator.

Alito said he had developed an interest in constitutional law “motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment.” Alito did not spell out specific objections.

The Warren court, which Earl Warren led as chief justice from 1953 to 1969, made several historic decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda.

The Brown case banned school segregation, and the Miranda case, which required that a person who is arrested be advised of a right to a lawyer.