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Nominee Alito
once supported antidiscrimination laws for gays

Nominee Alito
once supported antidiscrimination laws for gays


As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Bush's latest pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, chaired a task force that recommended the decriminalization of sodomy and said discrimination against gays in hiring "should be forbidden."

President Bush's latest pick to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring justice Sandra Day O'Connor once chaired an undergraduate task force that recommended the decriminalization of sodomy and said discrimination against gays in hiring "should be forbidden," The Boston Globe reports.

As a senior at Princeton University in 1971, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and 16 other Princeton students issued a report that stemmed from a class assignment to study the "boundaries of privacy in American society" and to recommend ways to protect individual rights. The far-ranging report, which satisfied a requirement for public policy students and which was stored in the university's Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, provided a glimpse of an Alito more liberal than he is now perceived. "We sense a great threat to privacy in modern America," Alito wrote in a foreword to the report. "We all believe that privacy is too often sacrificed to other values; we all believe that the threat to privacy is steadily and rapidly mounting; we all believe that action must be taken on many fronts now to preserve privacy."

A classmate, Jeffrey G. Weil, told the Globe on Tuesday that Alito, one of the top seniors in his class, had been selected to advise juniors writing the report, coaching them through the research and then writing an introduction explaining their recommendations. Alito was "not a person who has an agenda in terms of changing the world," said Weil, who is now a lawyer in Philadelphia. His role was mostly advisory, said Weil, who wrote the section of the report dealing with gay rights but who said he could not remember whether Alito personally agreed with the recommendations.

The Supreme Court did not strike down laws prohibiting gay sex until the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003. Many social conservatives have criticized that decision. As a judge, Alito has not ruled on any major gay rights cases. Richard H. Fallon, a professor at Harvard Law School, said that it would be a mistake to read too much into "little bits of evidence like this" and that even if Alito held socially liberal views on gay rights, it would not necessarily mean that he would vote in favor of same-sex marriage or any other gay rights issue. "From the fact that someone thinks legislators ought to forbid discrimination," he told the paper, "it does not follow that the person would necessarily think that the Supreme Court of the United States ought to hold that the Constitution forbids discrimination against gays."

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