Alito denied that Constitution protected abortion
Supreme Court nominee expressed views in 1985 letter
From Bill Mears
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, right, meets with Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a two-decades old document, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito voiced his support of the Reagan administration's fight to show "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Alito's 1985 letter, which was part of a newly released set of documents from his federal government service, was an application to be deputy assistant attorney general. He was already working in the department's solicitor general's office, where he helped prepare cases to be argued in court on behalf of the government.
In the memo, he writes, "I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration." (Read an excerpt from the document)
Later he writes about his accomplishments, "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 abortion."
He notes that as a federal employee, "I have been unable to take a role in partisan politics. However, I am a lifelong registered Republican."
Liberal groups were quick to criticize Alito's memo. "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," said Ralph Neas, president of People For the American Way. "And it is further evidence that if Samuel Alito is confirmed to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, he will shift the Supreme Court dramatically to the right for decades to come."
The documents are among dozens of pages released Monday by the Reagan and Bush presidential libraries. Alito did get the job he applied for, and went on to serve as U.S. attorney in New Jersey from 1987 to 1990. He then became a federal appeals court judge, his current job.
He was nominated last month to take O'Connor's seat. Abortion is certain to become a key issue in confirmation hearings.
As a judge, he dissented in 1991 as his appeals court threw out a Pennsylvania provision requiring a married woman seeking an abortion to notify her husband. The Supreme Court later upheld that ruling.
Alito has told senators in private meetings in recent days he has "great respect" for precedent, including the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. But he would not say whether he would continue to uphold that ruling.
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