This diary is for Justice: Day 4 regarding the threat that Alito’s confirmation will bring to the rights of people with disabilities.

(For the full list, please see Tampopo’s diary. Yesterday’s diary — for Day 3 — was by Steven D, and titled “For Justice: Day Three — Alito and Judicial Ethics.”)

Each of these diaries is presented for you in the format of a letter — a letter that you can readily copy, or adapt, and then send to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as to your own two senators, as they consider their votes for the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito.

Below the fold is my suggested letter regarding Alito’s well-known record on disability rights.

By the way, my style of writing letters to my senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and congressman Norm Dicks is to be as brief as possible. Their staffs get an enormous volume of letters. They will not read my lengthy explanations. They want to know where I stand, so that’s typically how I write my letters. However, I don’t shoot off one-liners. I try to supply facts and sources (as I’ve done below).

If you disagree with my succinct style, please set forth your own, more complex argument. Below, I will supply you with more resources.


Dear Senator:

Re: Joseph Alito’s Views on Disability Rights, as they pertain to his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court

It appears, from his dissent in Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania (1991), that Judge Alito’s view of discrimination against persons with disability is so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” (ThinkProgress)

Most critically, the Bazelon Center has released an exhaustive compendium of “‘highlights of a long and troubling record’ of disability right cases [including very recent decisions] decided by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.”

As recently as 2002, “Judge Alito ruled along with other judges on the Third Circuit excusing local zoning boards from engaging in a process to identify reasonable accommodations needed to provide equal access for people with disabilities. (Lapid Laurel, L.L.C. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Scotch Plains, 284 F.3d 442 (3d Cir. 2002).” (Bazelon Center’s analysis via Ragged Edge Magazine)

A Web site blog that specializes in disability law — Disability Law Blog — also cites the Bazelon report:

See this alert, which argues, in sum, that: “Samuel Alito, President Bush’s nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, poses a serious threat to people with disabilities. Having sat on a federal court of appeals for 15 years, Judge Alito has a record of decisions hostile to disability rights.” The Bazelon folks give a number of examples in the post.

I strongly urge that the full committee read the Bazelon report in detail, and study the history of disability cases in which Judge Alito has sided, time and time again, against the rights of people with disabilities.

Not only does Judge Alito disregard the rights of people with disabilities, he also appears to be “hostile” to their need for basic rights — signaling that he’d actively be a part of the retraction of the agonizingly slow but steady progress for which people who suffer from disabilities have fought for decades.

One of the hallmarks of a truly great nation is how we treat those who are disabled. Judge Alito apparently does not share our common vision for how we treat everyone in a nation that aspires to greatness.

Very truly yours,

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