This is my Day 6 letter in our Twelve Days For Justice series opposing Judge Alito. It was my hope to write a sincere letter rather than a legal brief, so did not cite any cases.
If you want to verify his opinions here is a summary of Alito’s 3rd Circuit religion decisions provided by Professor Howard Friedman of the University of Toledo College of Law. This link will take you to his page of links to each case. My letter for day 6 follows this list. Please alter as you wish.
Child Evangelism Fellowship of N.J., Inc. v. Stafford Twp. Sch. Dist., 386 F.3d 514 (October 15, 2004) OVERVIEW: Preliminary injunction properly ordered a school district to treat a child evangelism group like other community groups with regard to distribution of literature; group was likely to succeed on viewpoint discrimination claim under Free Speech Clause.
Blackhawk v. Pennsylvania, 381 F.3d 202 (August 20, 2004) OVERVIEW: Native American’s free exercise rights were violated when he was denied a religious exemption from permit fees required because he owned two black bears. The fee regime’s provisions were underinclusive and thus not generally applicable.
Fraise v. Terhune, 283 F.3d 506 (March 13, 2002) OVERVIEW: New Jersey prison policy that allowed correctional officials to designate “security threat groups” (STGs) did not violate equal protection in view of greater propensity for violence demonstrated by members of the STG.
Abramson v. William Paterson College, 260 F.3d 265, August 3, 2001, Concurrence by Alito, J. OVERVIEW: In religious discrimination suit, appellate court reversed summary judgment for the employer because the employee established a prima facie case for hostile work environment, religious discrimination, and retaliation.
ACLU-NJ v. Township of Wall, 246 F.3d 258 (April 3, 2001) OVERVIEW: Taxpayer plaintiffs failed to establish standing in their First Amendment holiday display claim where the record established that both the nativity display and the menorah at issue were donated to defendant Township.
Saxe v. State College Area Sch. Dist., 240 F.3d 200 (February 14, 2001) OVERVIEW: Public school district’s student-on-student anti-harassment policy was unconstitutionally overbroad because it prohibited non-vulgar, non-sponsored student speech and did not satisfy the Tinker substantial disruption test.
C.H. v. Olivia, 226 F.3d 198 (August 28, 2000), cert. denied June 18, 2001. Dissent by Alito, J. OVERVIEW of majority opinion: Where it was not alleged that the removal of a student’s poster occurred as a result of any school policy against the exhibition of religious material, judgment for school officials was remanded to allow plaintiff to amend her complaint.
FOP Newark Lodge No. 12 v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (March 3, 1999) cert. denied October 4, 1999. OVERVIEW: Police department’s policy, which prohibited beards, was found to be in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment because it refused to make exemptions for religious reasons, even though medical exemptions were made.
ACLU NJ v. Schundler, 168 F.3d 92 (February 16, 1999) OVERVIEW: A city’s display of predominantly religious symbols in holiday display was unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause; however, addition of secular and cultural symbols diluted the display’s message of endorsement of religion.
Edwards v. California Univ. of Pa., 156 F.3d 488 (August 10, 1998). cert. denied February 22, 1999. OVERVIEW: University professor did not have First Amendment right to choose classroom materials and subjects in contravention of university’s dictates, and his suspension with pay did not violate procedural due process where he was not deprived of employment.
Samuel Alito wants to become the fifth Roman Catholic on our Supreme Court. Chosen by a president who believes himself an instrument of God, Alito’s ascension to the Supreme Court would jeopardize the predominance of our Constitution.
Threatened by the religious right over his nomination of Harriet Miers, President Bush selected their preferred choice. This nomination has been applauded by Christian fundamentalists who fear a loss of their power.
Pat Robertson said he “can see the majority shifted on the court, instead of 4 to 5 against the Lord, going 5 to 4 in His favor.” Television ads placed by religious groups hail Alito as a savior and protector against evil forces such as “The ACLU’s attempt to scrub away our religious heritage.”
Every decision by Judge Alito has favored the public display and proselytizing of the religious. He has indicated in meetings with Senators that he believes the Court has gone too far in separating church and state.
I would suggest two questions for Judge Alito:
Do you agree with Associate Justice Scalia that the Constitution permits “disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists?”
Do you agree with Thomas Jefferson’s discussion of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom when he said: “The proposal to insert “Jesus Christ” was rejected by a great majority in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, The Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”
America was never a nation of Christians, though they hold the majority. The Puritans began by outlawing religious practices of the native peoples. Too many American Christians feel entitled to dominion over people who view the world differently. I don’t want my country to become a fundamentalist-dominated theocracy like a middle-eastern nation.
While I don’t know how Judge Alito would rule in first amendment cases, I do fear that he will be unduly influenced by fanatical fundamentalists, powerful politicians, corporate masters and the Pope in his decisions.
Our Constitution deliberately avoids mention of God. We depend upon the Supreme Court as the last bastion of hope for the protection of an individual’s rights. Please don’t let it become dominated by a group of men who share a religious viewpoint.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.