March 02, 2006
Of Supreme Court Justices and Thank-You Notes
Posted by Christine Hurt

Letter I usually don't join in and bash the NYT for perceived bias, but I have to point one thing out about today's article about Justice Alito's thank-you letter to Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.  Here is the opening paragraph of the article:

In his first weeks on the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sent a note to Dr. James C. Dobson, the influential Christian conservative, thanking him for his support and vowing that "as long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me," Dr. Dobson said Wednesday in a radio broadcast.

That sounded sort of ominous to me -- thanking a leader of a consitutency with a strong idological agenda and acknowledging that he must remember his support when he is on the court. However, the actual text of the letter puts these two concepts in different parts of the letter. From WSJ blog, here's the actual text:

Dear Dr. Dobson:

This is just a short note to express my heartfelt thanks to you and the entire staff of Focus on the Family for your help and support during the past few challenging months. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would convey my appreciation to the good people from all parts of the country who wrote to tell me that they were praying for me and for my family during this period. As I said when I spoke at my formal investiture at the White House last week, the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force.

As long as I serve on the Supreme Court I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me. I hope that we will have the opportunity to meet personally at some point in the future. In the meantime my entire family and I hope that you and the Focus on the Family staff know how much we appreciate all that you have done.

Sincerely yours, Samuel Alito

Read in context, the statement doesn't seem that ominous, and seems like it might be part of a "form" second paragraph. At least it didn't have hearts or exclamation points!

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