Iowa’s two U.S. senators will cancel out each other’s votes on President Bush’s latest nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. While Republican Chuck Grassley says he’ll support Samuel Alito, Democrat Tom Harkin announced this morning he will oppose the nomination. Harkin, who authored the Americans with Disabilities Act, fears Alito would help to overturn the legislation.
Harkin says “Based on his record, I’m gravely concerned that Judge Alito does not believe that Congress has the authority to protect the fundamental rights of all Americans. Take, for example, a year 2000 case, where he ruled that Congress lacked the authority to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act.” Harkin says Alito consistently favors the rights of states over the rights of people, particularly when people with disabilities are involved.
Harkin quoted a 1995 case in which Alito’s circuit court ruled that people with disabilities should be allowed to live in the community and not be “warehoused” in institutions, something Harkin says is now accepted, humane and reasonable.
Harkin says Alito argued the court should re-hear the case and reconsider its decision. Harkin says the “cases provide a clear window into Judge Alito’s judicial philosophy. He has an extremely restrictive view of Congress’ power to enact laws to protect workers, to protect public safety, to protect victims of discrimination.” Republicans control the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate, so Alito’s confirmation next week is all but assured. While Harkin will oppose him, Alito has won the support of several conservative Democrats, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska.