Alito on gerrymandering
Here's the substantive information I was able to sift out of the gossip:
In 1985, when Alito was applying for a political appointment in the Reagan administration, he wrote that he disagreed with decisions by the Warren Court in the 1960s involving "reapportionment." Those rulings required electoral districts to have equal populations and helped ensure greater representation of urban minorities.
Those 20-year-old words are highly inflammatory to civil rights groups marshaling forces against President Bush's choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But the White House and a key Republican ally this week were spreading the word that Alito has privately assured senators he has no intention of overturning the Warren Court's reapportionment precedents. Democrats, for their part, refuse to say what, if anything, Alito has told them on the subject. [...]
In Alito's case, the question revolves around what, if anything, he told senators about his views on Baker v. Carr, a 1962 case that gave federal courts the authority to review legislative redistricting, and Reynolds v. Sims, a case two years later that fundamentally altered political representation in the United States by ensuring that voters in rural areas had no more power than voters in denser urban areas. [WaPo]
Baker v. Carr upheld the federal government's right to intervene when state and local governments' (re)districting policies violated citizens' constitutional rights. Those who followed Tom DeLay's Texas redistricting scam may feel their Spidey Senses starting to tingle.
[Senator Joe] Biden singled out Alito's mention of reapportionment as cause for special concern. "The fact that he questioned abortion and the idea of quotas is one thing," Biden said. "The fact that he questioned the idea of the legitimacy of the reapportionment decisions of the Warren court is even something well beyond that." [Invest Bus Daily]
If Alito is skeptical about those 1960s reapportionment decisions today, he's no moderate. They were controversial at the time, but it was radically conservative to question them in back in 1985.
Update: In a nice turn of phrase, Nathan Newman describes Alito's views on reapportionment as "radically retrograde."