Samuel Alito – A Civil Man

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By Matthew Walther,

from The American Spectator,

The pleasure of Justice Alito’s company.

Samuel Alito is wearing a numberless Philadelphia Phillies uniform, standing next to Phillies legend Richie Ashburn, the hittingest batter of the ’50s and a childhood hero of his. He looks happy.“Back when I was on the Court of Appeals, when I was forty-three, my wife signed me up for Phillies Phantasy Camp,” he tells me. “I never would have done it, but it was a Christmas present.” Phantasy Camp is the aging baseball junkie’s nirvana. For a week, campers train with athletic professionals, drill with former players, square off against one another, and, on the last day, play a game—with real MLB rules—against Philly old timers. Alito, a Little League veteran who has coached his son’s baseball team, says he loved it. Before I can think of a tactful way to broach the subject, Alito begins telling me what it’s like to live with a bunch of white-collar middle-aged guys pretending to be professional athletes. “By the end of the week everybody had pulled their hamstrings,” he says. “The locker room smelled overwhelmingly of Bengay. Nobody could run. Everybody was hobbling.”

Alito was born in Trenton, N.J. in 1950 to parents who were teachers. [He] might have been born when America’s industrial manufacturing and the middle-class prosperity that it made possible were at their tranquil zenith, but he came of age during the tumult of the late 1960s. “All that is very vivid in my memory“, he says.

In 1968, more than 200 businesses were looted in Trenton during a series of riots that … were far reaching in their consequences. “The city never really recovered“, says Alito.

[When asked about things like the War in Vietnam, he says “that is ancient history to young people and most people don’t know history” today.]

[Alito went to Princeton and in 1970 signed up for ROTC.] What was supposed to have been a two-year training program was cut to one-year before being shut down entirely – at least on campus. To this day he is rankled by that decision. “It was an unprincipled thing to do.

While at Princeton, Alito became interested in a topic that has concerned him throughout his judicial career: privacy.

In 1971, he chaired a student run conference … whose report included these words in its conclusion: “The erosion of privacy, unlike war, economic bad times, or domestic unrest, does not jump to the citizen’s attention and cry out for action. But by the time privacy is seriously compromised it is too late to clamor for reform.

[In 2005 when George Bush nominated Alito to the Supreme Court], various left-wing organizations declared him “outside the mainstream American values“.

Alito objects most to those who, during confirmation, called his professional standards into question.

… in Alito’s dissents, I cannot help but think, are hints of what sounds suspiciously like common sense.

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