Thanks to Dana Milbank ["Life of the Party? Only in the 'Grand Old' Sense," Washington Sketch, Nov. 3], we know that during a round of meetings on Capitol Hill, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. showed a disturbing lack of sartorial elegance by sporting a "rumpled" and "ill-fitting" suit, a bunched-up tie and an untied shoelace. He also blinked in the sunlight, tapped his foot when nervous, nodded when spoken to and rubbed his index finger.
As further proof of Judge Alito's nerdiness, Mr. Milbank exposed the fact that the judge not only coached Little League but did so in a baseball uniform.
Whatever his political, philosophical or legal views, Sam Alito is a man of impeccable credentials who is brilliant and modest -- a rare combination in Washington. Mr. Milbank's column was silly and superficial.
DONA DE SANCTIS
The writer is deputy executive director of the Order Sons of Italy in America, which has supported Mr. Alito's nomination.
According to Charles Krauthammer ["Distorting Sam Alito," op-ed, Nov. 4], the Brady Center's criticism of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s view of the constitutionality of the federal ban on machine guns shows a "deliberate confusion of a constitutional judgment (almost invariably based on the Supreme Court's own precedents) with a personal policy preference."
To the contrary, Judge Alito's dissent in the case, U.S. v. Rybar, was a textbook example of right-wing judicial activism. Not only was Judge Alito a dissenter in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, but every other federal appellate court that has considered the issue has rejected his reading of Supreme Court precedent and his view that the federal ban on machine guns violates the commerce clause.
Apparently, the Supreme Court is untroubled by these rulings. On six occasions it has been asked to review lower-court decisions upholding the ban, and it has declined in each case.
Far from showing the slightest deference to the considered judgment of Congress on this issue of public safety, Judge Alito's dissent strains to erect arbitrary hoops for Congress to jump through in fulfilling its legislative function.
DENNIS A. HENIGAN
The writer is director of the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Charles Krauthammer described the Pennsylvania requirement for spousal notification from the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in the following terms: "The married woman just has to inform her husband. Even less than that. She just has to sign a form saying she informed him." Mr. Krauthammer added that the woman can forgo notification if she claimed one of several grounds, including fear of physical harm.
Apparently, the criminal penalties for such an act are of no consequence because, as Mr. Krauthammer said, "What prosecutor would subsequently dare to try to prove to a jury that, say, she actually had no fear of such harm?"
So Mr. Krauthammer is defending the Pennsylvania law on the basis that it is not burdensome because the woman has the option of providing false testimony in an initial form, on an application for waiver, at a deposition and at trial.
VALERIE E. ALEXANDER