This justice began the Supreme Court’s conservative transformation

Washington (CNN)When Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked President Donald Trump over judicial independence in November, some critics countered with a 2010 moment between President Barack Obama and Justice Samuel Alito. RBG’s message one month after fall: I’m still here That instantly viral episode, with Alito mouthing "not true," as Obama disparaged the Citizens United campaign finance decision during a State of the Union address, was not quite comparable. But it did again put a rare spotlight on one of the Supreme Court’s least known but most important justices — as did his pungent questioning in oral arguments this week. As a lawyer faltered in the face of one of Alito’s distinctive hypothetical questions on Thursday, Alito insisted, against his reputation as a tough interlocutor on the bench: "I don’t think this is a surprise question, or a particularly difficult one." Through his opinions, Alito, who succeeded centrist Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, has moved the court to the right on reproductive rights, religious freedom, job discrimination and campaign finance regulations. Since the February 2016 death Justice Antonin Scalia, Alito has anchored the right wing of the nation’s high court with Justice Clarence Thomas. The addition of Trump appointees Justice Neil Gorsuch, in 2017, and Brett Kavanaugh in October, could bolster in upcoming years Alito’s unflinching conservatism — to further restrict abortion rights, for example, and to continue last session’s support of the Trump administration legal agenda. The New Jersey native with a caustic wit who still draws attention […]

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