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Alito, who was educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2005 by President George W. Bush after former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito testifies before the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill on March 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
“He’s scholarly, fair-minded and principled, and these qualities will serve him well on the highest court in the land,” Bush said at the time of Alito’s nomination to the court. “[His record] reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion. He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people.”
Alito, an ideologically conservative justice, has served as the 110th justice on the court for more than 16 years and authored a majority opinion for a 5-4 decision more than 25 times. He is also the author of several 8-1 decision dissents, writing 10 of those during his tenure.
A notable opinion from Alito includes his majority opinion in the Janus v. AFSCME ruling, which found that unions for public service employees cannot require employees who are not members of the union to pay agency fees to cover the costs of non-political activities within the union. At the time, Alito concluded that a fee for non-union employees “violates the First Amendment and cannot continue.”
Other notable opinions from Alito include his dissent in Snyder v. Phelps on whether the Westboro Baptist Church could legally picket a military funeral and his majority opinion in the Second Amendment case McDonald v. City of Chicago, which reinforced that the right of an individual to “keep and bear Arms” applies with regard to state and local governments as well as the federal government.
An activist with The Center for Popular Democracy Action holds a photo of Justice Samuel Alito as they block an intersection in front of the Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In addition to his time on the Supreme Court, Alito has also served as a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to that, Alito served as deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, as well as assistant to the U.S. solicitor general.
During his time at Princeton, Alito joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and later served in the Army Reserve from 1972 until 1980. He was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of a draft opinion from Alito that was published by Politico on Monday. The leaked draft, which signaled majority support from the court that states could soon decide the fate of Roe v. Wade, was written in early February. It is not clear if it has been rewritten or revised.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito addresses the audience during the “The Emergency Docket” lecture Sept. 30, 2021, at the University of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Indiana. (Michael Caterina /South Bend Tribune via AP)
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the document, labeled the “Opinion of the Court” for the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In a statement Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
Roberts also called for an investigation “into the source of the leak.”