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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Justice Samuel Alito on the Bill of Rights’ meaning here and globally"

Linda Greenhouse's latest had a look back to the undocumented schoolchildren case of Plyler v. Doe and compared it to the recent voting rights case out of Texas.  John Roberts as a young member of the Reagan Administration supporting reining in statutory voting protections and also was not a big fan of Plyler.

Alito's conservative bona fides also show themselves early.  Still, there is some common ground, as seen in a recent meeting of Yale grads (Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor; the other six -- though Ginsburg has a footnote -- are Harvard alums).  Also, Alito gave some words honoring the Bill of Rights, showing in a broad sense, we are united more than we are not.  He connected the Declaration of Independence and the BOR:
The seed that became the Bill of Rights was planted here in Philadelphia in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “The Declaration of Independence proclaims the every person has a certain unalienable rights that are precious to us. The Bill of Rights codifies the promise of the Declaration of Independence., it codifies unalienable rights that are precious to us as Americans.
 And, he talked about how government power and rights go together:
And today we can see that both of those groups were perceptive. On the one hand, the government has grown to a size that the founding generation could never had imagined, and the Bill of Rights is vitally needed to keep the federal government and the state governments in check, to make sure they do not violate precious individual rights. At the same time, however, without the governmental structure that the Constitution created, the Bill of Rights would be like an arm without a body. Constitutional provisions protecting individual rights are worse than useless if they are not backed up by a governmental structure to enforce those rights.
Alito also spoke about how human rights were honored globally. And, he ends with how ultimately rights are honored in our hearts -- Hamilton once noted that words on parchments alone is not enough. The opponents of the Bill of Rights were wrong to not accept that though it might not be enough, it helps. Alito spoke of judicial review, but also overall recognized that the courts are not the only way rights are protected.

It often is not even the most important way.  

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