washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems’ Best Focus: Alito’s Anti-worker Record

by Pete Ross
Nathan Newman, director of Agenda for Justice, has a good read at TPM Cafe,”Scalito on Workers Rights,” alerting Dems to Judge Alito’s long history of undermining laws that protect working people from abuses on the job. While there is a lot in Alito’s record for Dems to be concerned about, particularly with respect to women’s reproductive rights, Dems will be missing an opportunity if they don’t give strong emphasis to opposing Alito because of his rubber stamping corporate arguments against worker rights. As Newman notes:

What is striking about Alito is that he is so hostile even to the basic right of workers to have a day in court, much less interpreting the law in their favor…

Newman cites cases in which Alito opposed majority decisions on worker’s rights with respect to minimum wage, discrimination, pensions, public employee rights and union protection. He points out that Alito wrote “anti-worker majority decisions” on exempting employers from the Family and Medical Leave Act, “putting him to the right of William Rehnquist.”

His opposition to the Family Medical Leave Act will be highly unpopular with middle class voters and should be the focus of any fight against Alito. Family Medical Leave is sacred ground for working people with children–republican, democratic, and independent. Paint the republicans as anti-family leave and you have a huge political victory.

Molly Selvin’s article “Court Nominee Has Free-Market Bent: Bush’s choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has a pro-business record” in today’s LA Times also cites cases in which Alito revealed his strong anti-worker bias. Selvin quotes Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School:

Alito gives every indication that he will be a strong ally for business interests on the court…He will be swimming in the deep right of the court’s pool on business questions

Newman is skeptical about Dems’ rising to the challenge of making concern for worker rights the centerpiece of their oppostion to Alito. But, if the Dems are going to go all out against Alito, focusing their arguments as champions of worker rights has the greatest potential for building a broad groundswell for defeating the Alito nomination — and for strengthening the Dems’ credibility with working people in November, ’06.