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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 1 April 1950Trenton, New Jersey, USA
Birth NameSamuel Anthony Alito Jr.
Nickname Scalito

Mini Bio (1)

An soft-spoken, unassuming lawyer of intellectual bent, Samuel Alito, Jr. has seldom called attention to himself. But in 2005, he became a flash-point of controversy with his nomination to the United States Supreme Court. An Italian-American, he was born and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Samuel Alito, Sr., and Rose (nee' Fradusco) Alito. He grew up in a comfortable middle class family, where his father was Director of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services and his mother was a school principal. Alito attended public schools and excelled academically while participating in several extracurricular activities. From high school, he attended Princeton University and graduated summa cum laude in 1972. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Signal Corps. He also was accepted at Yale Law School, where he was known for his intelligence and diligence, and he became editor of the Yale Law Journal, the school newspaper. There was much social turmoil going on at the time, but Alito avoided the controversy and concentrated on his studies. During his senior year, he lived in Italy, where his father was born, and wrote his thesis about the Italian criminal system. He graduated in 1975 and was expected to seek a well-paying job with a prominent law firm. But instead, he became a clerk for Leonard Garth, a respected judge on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1977, he joined the U.S. Attorney's office. Starting out as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he made criminal appeals before for the U.S. Attorney. In 1981, he joined the U.S. Department of Justice, working as assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General. There argued some cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In both positions, he became known for his thoroughness and deliberate presentation of cases. That and his conservative views caught the attention of many in Washington, D.C., and in 1985, he was hired to be Deputy Assistant to U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, where he provide Constitutional advice to the department. That same year, he married Martha-Ann Bomgardner, a law librarian whom he had first met while doing research as a law clerk.

In 1987, Alito's profile was raised when he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey. This was a demanding position, and Alito prosecuted many important cases involving organized crime and drug trafficking. In spite of his mild demeanor, Alito was a vigorous and effective prosecutor, motivated not only by his personal ethics and sense of responsibility, but his belief that the perpetrators of organized crime gave his fellow Italian-Americans a negative and unjust image. In that capacity, he won several important convictions and made an impact against several criminal enterprises. This brought him to the attention of President George Bush, and in 1990, he was nominated to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Impressed by his record, the U.S. Senate confirmed him unanimously. The Court has long been dominated by liberal judges appointed by Presidents who were Democrats, and Alito's rulings were often in the minority on the Court. This frustrated him initially and he had a few outspoken dissents, but he quickly reverted to the low-key, careful approach which he had demonstrated during most of his career. He made a good impression on both his subordinates and his colleagues, including many liberal judges. He was compared by many to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, due to their similar views and backgrounds, and Alito became referred to as Scalito in some circles, which annoyed him immensely. But he remained highly respected in both conservative circles and the legal community and during the Bush's Presdidency, he had been occasionally mentioned as potential choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. He paid little attention to this speculation and concentrated on his rulings. Thought a few of his rulings were controversial, he always made sure they were written with what he saw as adherence to the U.S. Constitution.

In 2005, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced that she would be retiring from the Court. This drew national attention, as the court was closely divided on several important issues and O'Connor had been the deciding judge in most of them. Alito was interviewed by President George W. Bush and made a good impression, but Bush instead chose John G. Roberts Jr. of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Before confirmation hearings could begin, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, died, and there were two vacancies. Roberts was quickly nominated to Rehnquest's position as Chief Justice. After much speculation, Bush unexpectedly chose White House Counsel Harriet Miers for the O'Connor vacancy. However, Meiers withdrew her confirmation after much criticism. At that point, Alito was asked by Bush to serve on the Court, and Alito accepted. In spite of Alito's high regard in the legal community, his nomination was controversial. Democratic Senators and many liberal advocacy groups attacked Alito, calling him a right-winger and charging that he would change the ideological composition of the Supreme Court for the worse. During confirmation hearings, Alito was questioned aggressively by Democratic Senators. Alito testified calmly and defended his record, while promising to be impartial and rule only on the basis of the Constitution. At one point, when Democratic Senators were questioning Alito on a club he had belonged to in college, his wife became frustrated and began to weep, and it made headlines and news coverage throughout the country. Alito looked like a dignified, reasonable jurist while his opponents looked both arrogant and buffoonish, and public opinion turned in his favor. Just before the Senate voted to confirm Alito, U.S. Senator John Kerry announced he would attempt a filibuster of Alito's nomination while he was on vacation in the Alps. This was widely ridiculed, and conservatives attacked Kerry as a wealthy dilettante. On January 31, 2006, Alito was confirmed by a vote of 58 to 42 in a vote that broke mostly along party lines.

On a Supreme Court closely divided between activist and textualist wings, Alito has voted with the textualists, of whom fellow justice Scalia is considered a leader.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: anonymous

Spouse (1)

Martha-Ann Bomgardner (1985 - present) (2 children)

Trivia (4)

He graduated from Hamilton Township public schools in Hamilton, New Jersey.
He has a younger sister, Rose Alito.
He played baseball for the Mercerville P.T.A. Cubs in Hamilton, New Jersey.
Lives in Washington, D.C., and is an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. [July 2007]

Personal Quotes (4)

I think that the legitimacy of the court would be undermined in any case if the court made a decision based on its perception of public opinion.
Private religious speech can't be discriminated against. It has to be treated equally with secular speech.
I'm not any kind of a bigot. I'm not.
On Newark, New Jersey: I think Newark is very much misunderstood. It's a lot better in many ways than it was when I first went there in 1976 for my clerkship. I became very fond of Newark and that whole area and I'm glad to see it moving in the right direction.

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