Legal Masterminds Current U.S. Supreme Court Justices

This post is the seventh in a series of posts about current U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Samuel Alito was appointed to the Court by President George W. Bush in 2005, and was confirmed in early 2006. He was appointed to take Justice O'Connor's seat, following her announcement that she would retire. He was narrowly confirmed, by a vote of 58-42. He is the second Italian American and 11th Catholic to ever serve on the Court.

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. (born April 1, 1950) 

Alito is an Italian American justice, and was born and raised in New Jersey.  Both of his parents were school teachers.  He earned his Bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. While studying in Italy during his senior year, he wrote his thesis on the Italian legal system. He allegedly listed "warming a seat on the Supreme Court" as an aspiration during his senior year of college.

He graduated from Yale Law School, and then briefly served in the U.S. Army Reserve. He then clerked for a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge. After his clerkship, he worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, New Jersey, and then as Assistant to the Solicitor General. He also worked as Assistant to the Attorney General, and later as a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey.

During his nomination process to the Court, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary unanimously rated him as "well qualified" to fill the Associate Justice position. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, formally opposed his nomination, which they had only done twice before.

Justice Alito has also served as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, in Constitutional Law, and as a visiting professor at Duke University School of Law.

Two Noteworthy Cases

Justice Alito is generally considered a conservative member of the Court.

Alito was the sole dissenter in Snyder v. Phelps, a case involving an infamous Baptist church who protested at the funeral of a gay Marine who died in the Iraq war. The parents sued the church, under the theory of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. While the majority held that the speech was protected, in that it related to a public issue, Alito's opinion stated: "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case. "

He also dissented in United States v. Stevens, another free speech case, in which the majority of the court (8 justices) found that the relevant law was overly broad, and thus videotapes of dog fights were protected speech.

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