Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s former Princeton classmate Susan Squier, emeritus professor of gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University, appeared Thursday on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell and weighed in on Alito’s leaked draft opinion signaling the end of federally mandated abortion rights.
“I read it, because I’m trained as a literature and medicine scholar, so I pulled up the whole document and I read it,” Squier said. “And as someone who works with literature, I noticed nuance and word choice, and I was appalled at what I saw.”
In the draft opinion, Alito invoked 17th century jurist Matthew Hale, who had women put to death for witchcraft, and believed that women had no ownership over their own bodies. According to Hale, women belonged to their fathers until they were married, at which point they became the property of their husbands. Alito’s invocation of Hale did not sit well with Squier.
“When I read it, I thought, ‘I wouldn’t have given this a C if he had been my undergraduate student.’ It was very badly sourced. He didn’t consider the context at all,” Squier said. “And this from a man, I’m sorry to say, who was trained as a historian at Princeton, as well as a political scientist.”
Squier also called out Alito for using language in his draft parroting Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which is law in Mississippi, but not the rest of the country.
“That language seeps into the document,” Squier said. “So he’s referring to ‘unborn children’ rather than fetuses. I just found it stunningly duplicitous and badly argued, and shoddy and embarrassing.”
In response to the leak, Squier drafted a letter in protest that dozens of women who attended Princeton with her and Alito were more than happy to sign.
“There were no negatives. There were no people who said they didn’t want to sign,” Squier said. “Everyone was just thrilled that we were doing this, and very urgently angry about it.”
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