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Portrait of Samuel Anthony Alito Jr.
Portrait of Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.
Reproduction courtesy of the Supreme Court Historical Society.
Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.

b. April 1, 1950, Trenton, NJ

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

The son of Italian-American parents, Samuel Alito attended high school in Hamilton, New Jersey. He went on to Princeton, where he graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with a A.B. in 1972. He subsequently attended Yale Law School, where he was an editor on the YALE LAW JOURNAL and earned his degree in 1975. In 1971, while still at Princeton, Alito led a student conference on the "Boundaries of Privacy in American Society" that advocated broad application of the Bill of Rights and opposed domestic spying.

After graduating from Yale, Alito clerked for a federal judge for one year and then became an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, a position he held from 1977 to 1981. In 1981, after Ronald Reagan was elected president, Alito became assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, serving until 1985, when he was appointed a deputy assistant attorney general. In 1987 he became U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, a position he held until 1990 when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

In the fall of 2005, Alito was nominated by President George W. Bush to fill the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement. The appointment met with hostility among liberal groups, who thought he was too conservative to replace the centrist O'Connor. An attempt by Democrats to filibuster the nomination failed, and Alito was sworn in on January 31, 2006.

Among friends Alito is known as quiet and mild mannered, with an ironic sense of humor. Even those who disagree with his views respect him for his integrity. Alito's opinions while on the Court of Appeals were notable for their intellectual rigor and, while they did not articulate any sweeping views, they were strongly conservative in spirit. In particular, he dissented from a majority opinion and supported a Pennsylvania law requiring women to consult their husbands before having abortions. In a gun control case he wrote a dissent arguing that private citizens have the right to own submachine guns. In criminal law he is known to believe in narrowing the rights of criminal defendants.

John Fox, a writer and documentary film producer, was series producer of the Emmy-winning PBS series HERITAGE: CIVILIZATION AND THE JEWS. Editor-in-chief of the award-winning HERITAGE DVD-ROM, he supervised the creation of its 540-map interactive atlas of world history. He is currently writing a book about the growth of communal intelligence over the centuries.

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