Thursday, December 22, 2005

Press release that just went out a couple of hours ago:

National Archives Opens Additional Samuel Alito Records

...WHAT: The National Archives at College Park will release 45 documents relating to Samuel Alito. These records total 744 pages from Record Group 60, Records of the Department of Justice, Files of John Bolton, Michael Carvin, Roger Clegg, Stephen Galebach, Brian Landsberg, Mark Levin, and Richard Willard.

The National Archives found the documents, consisting of memoranda and other documents, in various folders in the files of these individuals during the processing of additional FOIA requests.

WHERE: These records will be posted on the National Archives Web site at

WHEN: The records will be available on Friday, Dec. 23 at 9 a.m., EST ...

Interesting timing -- the getaway day before Christmas. What's in this batch that they don't want anyone to pay attention to?


UPDATE FRIDAY MORNING: Well, I guess there's my answer.

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in a June 1985 memo that the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion should be overturned.

In a recommendation to the solicitor general on filing a friend-of-court brief, Alito said that the government "should make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled."

The June 3, 1985 document was one of 45 released by the National Archives on Friday....


UPDATE: There's more:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito wrote in a 1984 memo that U.S. attorneys general should be immune from being sued for ordering illegal wiretaps....

Alito said that Nixon's AG, John Mitchell, should have had absolute immunity when ordering a warrantless wiretap, rather than qualified immunity. The distinction is somewhat subtle:

This so-called "qualified immunity'' meant that Mitchell couldn't be sued if he ordered the wiretapping in his role as a federal prosecutor. Instead, the court said Mitchell could be sued because he was acting as an investigator.

The Supreme Court rejected Alito's position:

That case ultimately led to a 1985 ruling by the Supreme Court that the attorney general and other high level executive officials could be sued for violating people's rights, in the name of national security, with such actions as domestic wiretaps.

"The danger that high federal officials will disregard constitutional rights in their zeal to protect the national security is sufficiently real to counsel against affording such officials an absolute immunity," the court held.

However, the court said Mitchell was protected from suit, because when he authorized the wiretap he did not realize his actions violated the Fourth Amendment.

The decision was consistent with the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in 1972 that it was unconstitutional for the government to conduct wiretaps without court approval despite the Nixon administration's argument that domestic anti-war groups and other radicals were a threat to national security.

It might seem as if this case could play in the Bushies' favor -- it involved

a suspected plot to kidnap National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and blow up utility tunnels in Washington.

I'm assuming this is the case involving the lefty priest Philip Berrigan:

In January 1971, Philip Berrigan, McAlister, and four others were indicted on charges of plotting to kidnap then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and blow up the heating systems of federal buildings in Washington.

Berrigan and McAlister, who was a former nun, were found guilty in April 1972 only of smuggling of letters in and out of Lewisburg prison.

It's not clear whether there was ever much to this case -- Time, at the time, suggested that the alleged plot was mere "chitchat"; the charges are regularly referred to as having been "trumped up." Well, it'll be fun to see how this plays out: Kissinger's involved, so look for Christopher Hitchens to switch back over (temporarily) to the anti-Bush side. And in general we'll get to fight out a lot of the battles of that era -- again.

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