Hello all.

This diary is for For Justice: Day 2 regarding Alito’s positions on age discrimination & FMLA.

My own “copper coinage” (I have someone here to thank for that phrase): States have rights; people don’t. This warped concept is as antebellum as it is evil. Don’t be fooled because Alito’s bright enough not to snarl; he’s as wingnut as they come … only quieter.

Anyway, please take this letter and adapt as you will. Feel free to use all or in part.

Dear Senator,

I strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. Appointing Judge Alito will threaten the fundamental rights and basic legal protections for working Americans of all ages. Two areas of particular concern include the rights found under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)–rights that Judge Alito apparently does not believe are granted to Americans or should be exercised by Americans.

FMLA helps millions of adults balance workplace and family responsibilities by giving eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for life events such as the birth of a child or to care for a parent, child or spouse with a serious illness. The ADEA protects employees and job applicants 40 years of age and older from discrimination based on age. These laws are essential in an age of heightened rhetoric regarding “family values” that are ostensibly held so dear by social conservatives In an age of pension instability and decline of retiree health benefits for older workers, such protections are imperative.

Hostile to the very concept of discrimination.

A recent Knight Ridder article examining Judge Alito’s record describes him as being “particularly rigid in employment discrimination cases” and that he has “… seldom found merit in a bias claim.”  Is he really so myopic as to believe that discrimination either does not exist or deserves no remedy?  His rulings strongly imply that he doesn’t even support the right of individuals to present evidence that discrimination exists.

Apparently so: he was the sole dissent in Glass v. Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO). Glass, a 23-year PECO employee, sued for racial and age discrimination after being denied several promotions, even though during that period he earned two engineering degrees and had only one negative job evaluation. During the trial, PECO claimed that the sole negative job evaluation was the reason that Glass failed to be promoted. When Glass attempted to present evidence to refute that claim, the trial judge refused his motion.  The decision was reversed on appeal with Alito offering the sole dissent, claiming that the trial judge’s decision was “harmless.”  Incredibly, he further stated his belief that Glass presenting his side of the story could cause “substantial unfair prejudice.” Evidently, providing evidence in a case one has filed is itself prejudicial.

Ignoring evidence of blatant age discrimination.

In Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc., Judge Alito denied a former employee the right to present to a jury his claim under the ADEA despite providing evidence in the form of a statement by the person who fired him: “If you are getting too old for the job, maybe you should hire one or two young bankers.”

Views so radical that he does not believe that Congress even had the authority to enact FMLA.

In Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, Judge Alito held that Congress did not have the authority to give state employees the right to sue their employers for damages from violations of the FMLA’s unpaid leave provisions. Judge Alito even held that FMLA “creates a substantive entitlement to sick leave.”  The Supreme Court later ruled on a similar case that state employees did, in fact, have those rights under FMLA. That 6-3 opinion was written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Supreme Court decisions have real consequences for real people.

Judge Alito’s record of opposing basic legal protections for Americans is clear and unambiguous: It is replete with examples of weakening the rights and protections that millions of Americans depend upon. Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice that will rule in a fair manner, not an ideologue who will use his life-long appointment to push a narrow agenda that would winnow away basic rights. His type of extremist judicial philosophy has no place on the Supreme Court. For these reasons, I strongly urge you to vote against this nomination.


Update [2005-12-13 9:16:56 by AP]: Click here for Senate Judiciary Members and click here for for a list of all Senators.