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Back in 2002, when Alito was first gaining serious attention as a potential Supreme Court nominee, an unnamed “senior official” in the Bush administration told The New York Times that Alito’s chances were slim because the Court already had one Italian-American, Antonin Scalia. Now that Alito has joined Scalia on the Court, the National Italian American Foundation can be forgiven if it does some crowing about the doubling of Italian heritage on the high court. It will do just that on Oct. 21, at its annual gala awards dinner at the Washington Hilton. Scalia will present Alito with an award at the black-tie affair, and earlier in the day the two justices will appear on a panel that will discuss judicial independence. Also on the panel, which is open to those not attending the gala who register in advance, will be Judges Francis Allegra of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and Lynn Battaglia of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. But the day won’t be all full of seriousness, since on the schedule as well are a performance by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and appearances by actor Alan Alda, baseball legend Tommy Lasorda, and comedian Mel Brooks, who will represent his late wife, actress Anne Bancroft, as she is inducted posthumously into the Italian-American Hall of Fame. No word yet on whether President George W. Bush will attend, but it’s a possibility if he is feeling grateful; NIAF’s chairman, A. Kenneth Ciongoli, went to bat big time for Alito’s confirmation. Ciongoli’s son Adam clerked for Alito on the appeals court 10 years ago and then again earlier this year on the high court. Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected]

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