As a nominee for the Supreme Court in 2005, Samuel Alito privately assured Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) that he wouldn’t seek to undo abortion rights protections that were established in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, excerpts from the late senator’s diary reveal.
The passages from Kennedy’s diary were published in The New York Times this week to promote a new book titled “Ted Kennedy: A Life,” written by biographer John Farrell.
According to what Kennedy wrote after meeting with Alito, who was courting him and other senators after being nominated by former President George W. Bush, Alito said he was a “believer in precedents.”
“I recognize there is a right to privacy. I think it’s settled,” Alito told Kennedy, referring to the underlying arguments that established abortion protections within Roe.
Kennedy was skeptical, however, and asked Alito about an anti-abortion memo he wrote while working for the Reagan administration. Alito assured Kennedy that his views in the 1980s didn’t reflect his current ones, and that he had written the memo while seeking a promotion.
“I was a younger person. I’ve matured a lot,” Alito said.
Unpersuaded, Kennedy went on to vote against Alito’s confirmation. If the nominee could change his views in order to get a promotion, the late senator wrote, he could not trust that his views on the right to abortion would remain consistent.
Kennedy’s concerns were prescient — 16 years after making similar statements about Roe to the Senate in his confirmation hearings (calling the ruling “important precedent of the Supreme Court”), the Supreme Court justice would pen the majority opinion in the case that dismantled federal abortion protections, claiming that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start” — a sentiment that the vast majority of Americans disagree with.
Alito’s ruling was littered with selective reasoning. He claimed, for example, that abortion “is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition,” when in fact, abortion was practiced for many years in the U.S. before states began restricting the practice in the late 1800s.
Alito also attacked the right to privacy in his ruling, contradicting his statement to Kennedy that he recognized the right as real.
Critics condemned the sitting justice of the High Court after news of his deception was published.
“So as a younger attorney he ‘lied to his bosses to get a promotion’ and 20 years later he lied to Kennedy and the Senate to…get a promotion,” writer and filmmaker Andy Ostroy said on Twitter. “Alito is a despicable ethically-bankrupt liar.”
“Unlike Susan Collins, Ted Kennedy understood what these guys were peddling and how [fundamentally] dishonest they were,” said Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.
“Ted Kennedy’s diaries prove again that Samuel Alito is a liar, an activist Justice with an agenda and a disgrace to a delegitimized Supreme Court,” said public opinion researcher Fernand Amandi.