Was I Right About Justice Alito Before I Was Wrong About Him?

In this post back in early September, I suggested that Justice Alito could be in play in the DC gun case (at that point just pending on cert). I said: "I put Alito in the unknown category because I suspect that his long experience as a prosecutor makes him more of a law-and-order conservative on this issue than his more ideologically conservative brethren." I now have information that leads me to think that this was naive on my part. Last night I had a conversation with a prominent conservative law professor who worked directly under Alito at the Justice Department. He thought that Justice Alito was fully on board with the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment that conservatives tend to endorse on the basis of their reading of the original understanding.

If said law professor is right, then I was wrong about Justice Alito. But before I was wrong about him I was right about him, when earlier I wrote (in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, available here) that as a former high-ranking lawyer in a Republican Justice Department, Alito's views would have been well-known to the judge pickers working for the current President, and therefore that he would have been pre-screened for his ideological purity. If borne out by Justice Alito's vote in the DC gun case, my conversation with my conservative law professor friend will thus doubly confirm the claim of my earlier analysis: 1) It will show that in-the-loop conservatives know one another's views on ideological issues; and 2) It will show that Alito is, as predicted by the model my article develops, a staunch conservative.

You see, the good thing about making a lot of predictions---especially mutually contradictory ones about the same binary events---is that you're guaranteed that some of them will prove to be right!

Posted by Mike Dorf