The Mix

Alito's first vote

Good news for death penalty opponents. Bad news for reproductive rights.
Samuel Alito had just a few hours between being sworn in and casting his first vote in the case that rejected the planned midnight execution of Missourian Michael Taylor. The 6-3 vote; which kept Alito on the other side from his new conservative brotherhood of John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, surprised some conservatives. But it shouldn't have. As President Bush couldn't help himself repeating in the swearing in ceremony, Alito is the son if Italian immigrants. As his mother told us, Alito's as Catholic as the Pope. And here's former Pope John Paul II on the death penalty:
"Execution is only appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady immprovement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
Of course, Pope John Paul II also called reproductive rights "genocide." Here's the Pope on abortion:
"[Abortion and euthenasia laws] are a seed of corruption in society and its foundations. Civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, just as it cannot accept the idea that wars or inter-ethnic extermination are inevitable....They should leave no stone unturned to eliminate this legalised crime or at least to limit the damage of these laws, remaining aware of the duty to respect the right to life, from conception to the natural death of every human being"
This is the first time in history there's been a Catholic majority on the court, with five sitting justices identifying as practicing Catholics: Alito, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy. One vote is too soon to tell, but if Alito turns out to be the most strictly practicing Catholic among them, death row inmates may have more of a chance at life. Women who need abortions will certainly have less of one.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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