The challenge to Arizona’s tough immigration law may have the justices thinking about their own families’ origins and journeys to America. As Reuters reports today, nearly all of them, like their countrymen, descend from people who came looking for a better life (the notable exception is Justice Clarence Thomas whose great-grandmother was a slave).
Their ancestral stories may not tell us how they feel about illegal immigration or whether they will rule in favor of Arizona. But they are clearly a point of pride in their biographies and were often cited in nomination hearings.
Take Justice Samuel Alito, who referred to the experience of his own father, brought to the United States from Italy as an infant. It “is typical of a lot of Americans both back in his day and today. And it is a story, as far as I can see it, about the opportunities that our country offers, and also about the need for fairness and about hard work and perseverance and the power of a small good deed.”