Samuel Alito, still awaiting a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court at press time, once advocated legalizing discrimination against HIVers. Alito, working in the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, helped write an opinion in 1986 that said 'fear of contagion, whether reasonable or not' was sufficient reason for an employer to be able to legally fire an HIV-positive employee.
Although Alito's opinion was crafted in the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, activists still reacted with alarm to his support of blatant discrimination. 'I think we fear that as we stack people on the court who've shown prejudices in the past, it doesn't give us any comfort for what may happen in the future,' says Damon Dozier of the National Minority AIDS Council.
Adds Terje Anderson, outgoing executive director of the National Association of People With AIDS: 'The law should be used to protect the rights of all Americans to be treated with fairness and justice, not leave people vulnerable to uneducated, unscientific base prejudices.'