The United States Supreme Court. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito.

And the Judge Was Deeply Moved

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., one of America’s powerful, at the Meeting, taking time to enjoy everything, from the myriad acquaintances to the final adventure of Neapolitan dining.
L. Bardazzi and F. Tanzilli

Here in Italy, he is largely unknown and yet he is one of the most powerful men in America. Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., a Catholic born in New Jersey in 1950, has been at the center of attention in the U.S. since January 31, 2006, when the Senate confirmed his appointment as Supreme Court Justice. Under American Common Law, the Court’s rulings constitute precedents binding on all other judges. It has nine members, appointed for life. Alito is its fifth Catholic, and the fifth member to be conservative in orientation. His election has thus changed the orientations of the majority of the Court for the first time in decades. The results have already been seen, with the rejection in April 2007 of partial-birth abortion. Other pro-life sentences are expected. Alito was one of the many protagonists at the Meeting, there to shed light on the American legal system. He arrived with his wife and children in Rimini, where he chose to stay at the Grand Hotel, realizing his dream of visiting the hotel in Amarcord, a film by his beloved Fellini. Alito’s meeting, entitled, “The Justice of this World: Law in America,” was scheduled for Tuesday, but Alito is a curious person and, on the Monday before his speech, he preferred to attend the lecture on justice in Italy (“Auctoritas, no veritas facit legem?”) to lounging under a sun umbrella in this lovely seaside resort town. In the evening, he had dinner with some young assistant law professors close to the CL Movement. Alito has an inquiring mind: he wanted to meet the people present and to listen, much like Wael Farouq, the Muslim Egyptian professor who collaborated on the translation of The Religious Sense into Arabic. At lunch after his packed-auditorium lecture the next day, the judge was moved to hear Farouk’s story, and that of Jonah Lynch, priest of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, and organizer of the exhibition on Jeremiah. Before leaving on Wednesday, Alito, whose roots are in southern Italy, lunched at a Neapolitan restaurant. He bantered with the waiters, who insisted on him sampling the buffalo-milk mozzarella, and he was treated to a final tribute: the restaurateurs singing “O sole mio”–and, for the second time, he was deeply moved. The judge is not the only inquiring mind in the family. His children, Philip and Laura, attended the discussion with Fr. Francesco Ventorino (“Don Ciccio”) on the theme of the Meeting, “Truth is the Destiny for which We Have Been Made.” “I’ve never seen so many people at a ‘religious’ gathering,” he commented, and appealed to the steward for more information about the lively Don Ciccio and about Pirandello (a famous 20th-century Italian novelist). The judge’s wife, an ardent Catholic, took the opportunity to do some shopping among the stands. Questions and answers… talk with the steward… then, the discovery: “So you mean CL exists in America too?” You could read the gratitude in her eyes.

Photo by Steve Petteway via Wikimedia Commons.