Alito Memos Supported Expanding Police Powers
As a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Supreme Court nominee, played an active role in advancing the administration's efforts to expand law enforcement powers and limit restrictions on prosecutors, documents released Monday by the Justice Department show.
The 470 pages of documents, which consist mainly of memorandums Mr. Alito wrote as a deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel in 1986 and 1987, generally address routine matters or highly technical legal issues. In several of the memorandums, however, Mr. Alito makes a series of arguments espousing a broad view of law enforcement authority and a skeptical view of proposals to protect individuals from legal investigations.
Mr. Alito, who is now a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, wrote the memorandums as a lawyer enacting the policies of the administration, not necessarily expressing his personal legal opinions.
But the disclosure comes at a time when liberal opponents of his nomination are buying television advertisements suggesting that as a judge on the Third Circuit, Judge Alito wrote dissenting opinions that would have reduced protections against police searches, including one regarding a strip search of a 10-year-old girl.
Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the White House, said those accusations ignored other opinions Judge Alito wrote that protected defendants against improper police searches. "The criticisms by some outside-of-the-mainstream groups are deeply unfair because Judge Alito has shown a great respect for individual rights with regard to criminal prosecutions during his tenure as a federal judge," Mr. Schmidt said. "The attacks that are being directed against him don't bear any resemblance to the reality of his career."
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