The Cool Fervor of Judge Alito

Is he a conservative activist or a legal scholar not bound by ideology? Now's his chance to argue his case

Sam Alito wanted a bigger job, but he had a problem. The 35-year-old graduate of Princeton and Yale was working at the Justice Department in 1985 at the height of conservative euphoria over the re-election of Ronald Reagan. But he was not part of what was known as the "secret handshake" crowd—the Administration's tight-knit cadre of Reaganite true believers. He had been one of the young lawyers from élite schools hired without regard to their political leanings by the Solicitor General's office. The Reaganauts suspected many of the career lawyers were liberals hoping to block Reagan's ideas. Worse, Alito had not...

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