After Politico broke the news last week that the Supreme Court is preparing to annihilate Roe v. Wade, I jumped on YouTube and pulled up old clips of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings back in 2006, a seemingly distant time in our culture, when abortion rights felt more settled and inalienable than they do today. Over the years, watchers of the federal judicial process have grown accustomed to Republican judicial appointees slithering around questions about Roe with practiced and non-committal legalese. Alito was no different. And he had something big to answer for.
In his Judiciary Committee hearing, Alito was pressed by the chairman, the late Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter—a pro-choice Republican!—about a killer piece of opposition research. In 1985, while applying for a job in the Reagan administration, Alito wrote in a letter that he was “particularly proud” of his work in cases arguing that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”
With his wife Martha barely concealing a grin behind him, Alito said that was all in the past. “Today, if the issue were to come before me, if I were fortunate enough to be confirmed and the issue were to come before me, I would approach the question with an open mind,” Alito said. “That was a statement I made at a period of time when I was performing a different role.”