I’ll be serving crow on the Ledo Deck to all the naysers who thought this was a nothing story.
In college, Samuel Alito led a student conference that urged legalization of sodomy and curbs on domestic intelligence, a sweeping defense of privacy rights he said were under threat by the government and the dawning computer age.
President Bush’s choice for the Supreme Court, in a report written years before ubiquitous personal computers made electronic privacy the everyday concern it is now, warned of the potential for abuses by officials and companies collecting data on individuals.
Three decades before the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex, Alito declared on behalf of his group of fellow Princeton students that “no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden.” Alito also called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring.
As a federal appellate judge, Alito has built a scant record on gay-rights issues and a mixed one, at best, on privacy matters generally, in the view of civil liberties advocates who are still examining his opinions.
But they saw in the 1971 report a prescient thinker taking on issues ahead of their time, including the need for computer encryption, stronger oversight of domestic intelligence and curbs on the surveillance powers of states.
“The document itself is amazing,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It is a dramatic statement in support of the right of privacy.