Margaret Talbot’s August 28, 2022 article in The New Yorker tries to answer what drives Justice Alito’s anger against secular society.
Justice Alito’s life was shaped by the countercultural protests and antiwar activism of the 1960’s and 1970’s. His was an aversion to such activities. We are told he lacked power to do much at the time and had a reputation for being quiet, methodical and reasonable. But he did express strong views while at Princeton. He felt his peer’s views of elders being materialistic and having bad values was false, and that he saw some “very privileged people behaving irresponsibly, and I couldn’t help making a contract between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of some of the people back in my own community.” He even joined the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group of disgruntled alum who criticized changes like coeducations, recruiting minorities and public-school graduates, and downgrading of ROTC.
Born in 1950 in an Italian Catholic enclave in New Jersey, he held strong Catholic beliefs which were in the being dismantled by the Warren Court. The Warren Court was reshaping American life – desegregating schools and public facilities; recognizing a right to contraception and interracial marriages; banning state-sanctioned school prayer; guaranteeing public defenders; prohibiting state prosecutors from using evidence obtained in violation of constitutional rights. It was the latter of these that seemed to start Alito on his path of is it in the Constitution? In a 2015 interview, he stated, “There’s nothing in the Constitution about the exclusionary rule. The Fourth Amendment says no unreasonable searches or seizures. But that’s it. … What legitimizes something that is not in the Constitution?”
Alito seems to have been angry about the Warren Court’s decisions that a “good faith effort” on reapportionment and the on-person-one-vote rule. He wrote that such opinions made him “an ardent conservative.” Alito’s father was the director of New Jersey’s Office of Legislative services, a nonpartisan position for researching and drafting laws. Based upon his “reputation for being scrupulously neutral,” Alito Sr was given the assignment of drawing up new legislative maps. This was not a fond memory for the Justice.
With the addition of Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett, Alito no longer needs to curry favor from Chief Justice Roberts to get results. His war against the Warren Court continues with Alito in a more powerful position and a definite majority.
Look for this Court to attack such long standing opinions as the Miranda Rule, redistricting rights, one-person-one-vote, marriage rights, and more.