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March 15, 2006

Why did Justice Alito withdraw from Sentencing Initiative?

As detailed here, the Constitution Project's Sentencing Initiative has released a important report elaborating on its principles for criminal sentencing reform.  At the outset of the report, there is an interesting procedural footnote that follows up on an issue I raised last fall relating to Justice Alito's involvement in the Sentencing Initiative's Committee work:

Justice Alito participated actively in the deliberations that produced and approved the Committee's Principles.  However, his nomination to the Supreme Court in Fall 2005 precluded his participation in drafting and approving this Report.  His confirmation to the Court has now compelled him to withdraw from the Committee.

Though surely prudential (and workload) reasons might have prompted Justice Alito to withdraw, I don't see why he should have felt "compelled" to do so.  As I said in this post following his nomination: "I hope Judge Alito continues to serve on the Constitution Project's Sentencing Initiative.  His service to date suggests there is no ethical conflict with a sitting judge participating in a policy discussion of sentencing issues even when related legal issues could arise in his court.  Consequently, I see no ethical reason why Judge Alito should not continue to play a role in the very important work being done by the Constitution Project's Sentencing Initiative."

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March 15, 2006 at 11:35 AM | Permalink


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