Wednesday, November 02, 2005

So much for "precedent is important"

Well, it appears that ALito is not the person who really honors precedent after all.

The Boston Globe has an article that shows some times where Alito decided that he wanted to ignore very clear precedent:


"In separate cases involving the deportation of foreigners, Alito sided with the government. In both cases, Alito was outvoted by his colleagues, who accused him of ignoring court precedent.

''We suggest that to read the [law as Alito did] not only guts the statutory standard, but ignores our precedent," the majority said in one of the cases, which involved how much credence to give to an African man's assertion that he would be persecuted if sent home.

The two cases, one in 2003 and the other in 2004, were not the only times colleagues
have chided Alito over perceived failures to follow established rules.

They were, however, unusual in the strength of the language used to rebuke him -- especially because judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit generally have a reputation for being polite to one another.

The second case, in 2004, involved a Korean couple facing deportation after having filed a fraudulent tax return.

In that matter, the panel's majority accused their ''dissenting colleague" of ignoring ''well-established principles" about how to read statutes.

''It may be that Congress will wish to broaden the categories of aggravated felony to include other or all tax felonies," the majority judges wrote. ''But we must interpret what it has written by well-recognized rules of statutory construction, unaided by speculation."


"...Alito colleagues have accused him on a number of occasions of failing to follow precedent. In 1996, for example, the appeals court upheld a federal law outlawing machine guns. Alito filed a dissent, arguing that the law was
unconstitutional because Congress had not proved that machine guns were linked to interstate commerce.

''We know of no authority to support such a demand on Congress," the other appeals court judges wrote of Alito's dissent. ''Nothing in [Supreme Court case law] requires either Congress or the Executive to play Show and Tell with the federal courts at the peril of invalidation of a Congressional statute."


" a 1996 sexual discrimination suit, Alito was the only judge on the appeals court to vote for throwing out the case without a trial. The other 11 judges cited three circuit cases and eight decisions in other jurisdictions that dictated the woman should get her day in court, and accused Alito of misinterpreting precedent.

''The dissent 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," the otherwise unanimous panel complained.


I guess that it's only "judicial activism" if it's "active" against your own bias?

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