Sam Alito and Karl Marx
Sam Alito and Karl Marx ()

Have we been underestimating Justice Samuel Alito all these years? I mean, didn’t we just assume he’s a mini-Scalia? Well, Alito is showing a very different side in a recent profile in The American Spectator. And he’s voicing some (gasp!) untraditional ideas:

1. He doesn’t believe in the sanctity of the LSAT. “Law schools put too much emphasis on this one multiple choice test,” says Alito. “What in life is a multiple choice test?”

This is practically heresy—certainly among those who graduated from top law schools. Because those types tend to have sky-high LSAT scores, they typically believe that standardized test scores are destiny.

But Alito seems to be suggesting that life shouldn’t just be measured by one’s performance on a multiple choice test. This is clearly a slippery slope. Next thing you know Alito will argue that LSATs—and all standardized tests—are culturally-biased, unfair to the disadvantaged and souless.

2. He tries to be gender neutral in his writings. The Spectator notes that according to a study of his opinions, Alito “was the most consistent user of gender-neutral language.” Alito admits that he tries to be inclusive: “I don’t think it’s sexist,” he tells the Spectator about using male pronouns. “But if I can avoid using language that some people will find objectionable or denigrating to women, then I will.”

Did you catch that stuff about not being “objectionable or denigrating”? He sounds like one of those sensitive guys who helps his wife with housework and encourages her career. Alito’s views are also in direct contrast to those of Scalia, who scoffs at language accommodations. Is Alito a secret feminist?

3. He’s not a strict originalist. Alito says that some of the Constitution’s provisions “are broadly worded.” He then talks about the Fourth Amendment:

We have to decide whether something is a reasonable search or seizure. That’s really all the text of the Constitution tells us. We can look at what was understood to be reasonable at the time of the adoption of the Fourth Amendment. But when you have to apply that to things like a GPS that nobody could have dreamed of then, I think all you have is the principle and you have to use your judgment to apply it. I think I would consider myself a practical originalist.

“Practical originalist”? What happened to ideological purity? Could this mean that he might even limit the Second Amendment and recognize some forms of gun control?

I know I’m probably reading way too much into this interview. But it’s nice to think that there are some surprises left in the Supreme Court.

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