U.S. Supreme Court

Will Alito be more influential than Scalia?


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Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s final majority opinions of the term, in the court’s final two cases, weren’t as conservative as his reputation.

Alito appeared to be moderating the language and reach of the opinions when he ruled for religious owners of corporations who challenged the contraceptive mandate and ruled for partial public employees who objected to paying union dues, Politico reports.

“The pair of high-profile rulings suggest to some that the 64-year-old Alito—a George W. Bush appointee—is aggressively staking out ground as a successor or even rival of sorts to Justice Antonin Scalia, 78, who’s often viewed as the intellectual leader of the court’s conservative wing,” Politico says. “But he’s doing so in a less pugnacious and more politically palatable way than Scalia.”

Politico spoke with court observers for their take on Alito. Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall told the publication that, over time, Alito could be more effective than Scalia, partly because Alito’s writing style is less confrontational.

Ian Milheiser of the liberal Center for American Progress called Alito “the smartest conservative on the court” because he is more strategic than conservatives Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. “He asks the toughest questions on that side of the court and I think he’s also the most partisan justice,” Milheiser said. “Every other justice, I think, there’s a time they have crossed over and cast a vote that the president of their party hated, but not Alito.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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