Washington, DC — With the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito beginning on Capitol Hill today, generations of progress on women’s rights is at stake.
“This is a profoundly serious juncture on the long march for women’s equality. We fought hard for decades to make this country better, fair and more equal for women. The appointment of a reactionary judge like Samuel Alito to Justice O’Connor’s pivotal seat will reverse decades of progress. I don’t want to leave the next generation of women to fight the same battles we had to fight for the past forty years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, a leader in the women’s rights movement for more than 30 years.
“Make no mistake about it: Alito is no Sandra Day O’Connor,” said Smeal, who testified in support of Reagan’s nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor. “As the pioneering woman on the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor voted to preserve many of the most significant legal protections for women. She has been the key vote to preserve anti-discrimination laws, the Family Medical Leave Act, and a woman’s right to choose abortion.”
Alito’s record as a judge makes clear that if confirmed he will vote to erode important federal laws that protect women at work and women and girls at school, and that he would make it nearly impossible to obtain jury trials in sex discrimination and race discrimination cases under Title VII. Alito has ruled that the Family and Medical Leave Act should not apply to state and local employees. He would significantly narrow Congressional power under the Commerce Clause to protect women and people of color against discrimination, as well as workers and consumers. He did not think Congress even had the power under the Commerce Clause to restrict the transfer or possession of machine guns.
Alito is on the record stating that the Constitution does not protect the right to abortion, and he helped craft the legal strategy designed to first chip away and then overturn Roe v. Wade. Shockingly, in a memo, Alito equated some forms of birth control with abortifacients. He was the only judge on the Third Circuit who would have permitted women being required to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion, and he minimized the potential impact this requirement would have on domestic violence.
Throughout the confirmation process, young people are coming to Washington, DC from colleges and universities in 35 states, giving up their winter vacations, taking time away from family and work, to raise their voices to Senators in opposition to Alito’s confirmation. “Young women understand what’s at stake. They don’t want to lose rights necessary for modern life,” said Smeal.
“We are calling on each and every member of the Senate, and especially the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to stand up for women’s rights and lives,” Smeal said.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, has been a leader in the movement for women’s equality for over 30 years, and is a veteran of struggles over Supreme Court nominations in Washington. She will be following the Alito nomination on her blog, The Smeal Report