"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Nomination

Well, we're definitely going to have the War Over Judicial Philosophy that the hardliners on the Right were hoping for before the Miers nomination. Alito's position on issues likely to come before the Court is fairly clear, and his resume is impressive. It seems likely that he would be much like former Chief Justice Rehnquist on the Court, and that is a prospect that Democrats cannot enjoy, given that Alito has been nominated to replace Justice O'Connor, a rather waffly Rightist vote.

Initial opposition from Senate Democrats, however, was not as intense as one might have expected. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) said, "The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people." Fair enough. Teddy Kennedy (MA) said, "Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not on strength." That may sound fairly harsh, but it's nothing when compared with the tirade he engaged in upon the nomination of Judge Bork to the Court two decades ago. Of course, there's still time for Teddy to ratchet up the rhetoric. . . .

The interim president of Planned Parenthood, a group that lobbies for universal, legal access to abortions, called the nomination "outrageous," which was only to be expected. Alito's position on abortion, however, has been more nuanced than the Planned Parenthood president's statement suggests. In 2000, he voted to strike down a New Jersey law banning late-term abortions, as unconstitutional. His reasoning in the case, however, appears to have been based on a simple attempt to follow the Supreme Court's Roe and post-Roe precedents in abortion cases. That does not quite tell us how he would vote if given a chance to affect the Court's position on those issues.

It will be an interesting debate.

10 comments:

connie deady said...

Alito sits on my Circuit. He seems conservative, but not an idealogue and shows a willingness to be thoughtful and to consider the legal issues.

I'm not sure the Democrats will do more than lip service such as they did with Roberts.

Hunter Baker said...

Yep, Connie's got it right. You can't Bork a non-willing participant. Bork was willing!

The American people view the Supreme Court as a job people aspire to. You give 'em somebody who has done the work to get there and has the credentials and they pretty much want to see a confirmation.

The Liberal Anonymous said...

The American people probably can't even name a single member or a single important case.

Hunter Baker said...

I don't think that undermines my point at all, LA. The point I was making is simple:

1. The Supreme Court is viewed as the top job for lawyers.

2. The American people like to see people who have worked hard to gain the credentials get those jobs.

3. The natural instinct for meritocracy reigns. People like Roberts and Alito benefit because they have fulfilled the career path.

The above has nothing to do with the American people's knowledge of particular justices or cases.

James Elliott said...

You can't Bork a non-willing participant.

Does anyone else think of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets when they hear/read the name "Bork?"

Bork Bork Bork!

Hunter Baker said...

James, I was once a big fan of the Swedish Chef cereal, available briefly during my college years.

Tlaloc said...

Alito's stated arguments that clearly indicate a woman is a man's property are rather scary and I suspect won't play well for him when it comes to the confirmation hearings.

(specifically I'm thinking of his arguments that requiring husband notification before an abortion is the same as requiring parental notification before an abortion. Obviously that argument equates married women with children and sees their husbands as their guardian)

connie deady said...

I'm sure Tom van Dyke will appreciate my appreciation of Alioto as a staunch Phillies phan. No man (or woman) who is a Phillies phan can be all bad. It shows he's loyal in the face of adversity, and not a front runner.

I did take the time to read some of his opinions the other day. He seems mostly mainstream conservative, like the rest of the federal judiciary, which is bad from a liberal perspective.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"No man (or woman) who is a Phillies phan can be all bad."

Ah, I knew there was a reason you haven't given up on me. Right back atcha.

connie deady said...

Actually Alito looks like a nice man to me. I can only hope that he will broaden his viewpoints when he goes to Washington.

Maybe I'll have seats next to him at a Phillies World Series.