In the 2003 case Williams v. Price, ... Alito wrote the majority opinion overturning a lower court decision in which a convicted first-degree murderer was not permitted to call into question his verdict after a juror was heard making racist comments. This was a grisly murder and just the kind of annoying habeas petition that those of Scalia's ilk think clog the judicial system. To his credit, Alito authored the opinion that provided for a new hearing.In fairness, we could also pull out a few Scalia opinions that would resonate for liberals. Really, even Scalia is not the caricature that is used in these contrasts. But the challenge should be to understand Alito. Must Scalia distract us? The strongest reason for continuing to talk about Scalia is that the President campaigned on the promise that he would nominate persons like Scalia and Thomas. So why aren't we talking about Thomas too? Because Thomas isn't Italian?
November 1, 2005
Here's a free link to get to Akiba Covitz's TNR piece saying why Alito is not the same as Scalia. The article mostly contrasts the personalities of the two men -- and goes quite far in painting Scalia as an unpleasant person. It picks out a single case to portray Alito as less than "a caustic conservative":