A look at some possible candidates for the vacancy on the Supreme Court: SAMUEL A. ALITO: Dubbed ”Scalito” or ”Scalia-lite” by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Alito, 55, has been a strong conservative voice in his 15 years on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered to be among the most liberal. On one hot-button issue, Alito was a lone dissenter in a case striking down a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking abortions to inform their husbands. Alito argued that the Pennsylvania legislature ”could have rationally believed” that married women might seek abortions because of perceived problems such as finances or a husband’s prior opposition that could be rectified if the couple talked before an abortion. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the spousal notification requirement and reaffirmed the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Alito also has written a majority opinion holding that a city’s holiday display that had a menorah did not violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause – which bars the federal government from declaring a national religion – because it included secular symbols such as Frosty the Snowman. . . In a 1999 case, Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, the 3rd Circuit ruled 3-0 that Muslim police officers in the city can keep their beards. The police had made an exemption in its facial hair policy for medical reasons (a skin condition known as pseudo folliculitis barbae) but not for religious reasons. Alito wrote the opinion, saying, “We cannot accept the department’s position that its differential treatment of medical exemptions and religious exemptions is premised on a good-faith belief that the former may be required by law while the latter are not.” (MORE)