Bush Nominates Samuel Alito, Jr.
Today President Bush nominated Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. Alito has served for fifteen years as a justice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As an attorney, Alito argued some 20 cases before the highest court. Some have even said he is actually better-qualified than Justice John Roberts. But Democrats have promised a tough confirmation battle--most of which will center on political questions (those that should be off-limits) because there is little room to attack Alito on qualifications or questions of judicial philosophy and temperament. I'd like to address some of what is to come.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says Alito is not a 'consensus nominee.' So? We rule by majority, not by consensus. And do Democrats ever choose consensus nominees? Was Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Chief Counsel for the ACLU a consensus nominee?
Chuck Schumer compared Alito unfavorably to Rosa Parks suggesting, "he would use [his seat on the Court] to reverse much of what Rosa Parks and so many others fought so hard and for so long to put in place." This comment is completely irresponsible--but Schumer phrased it in the form of a question, so he can claim to simply be curious. Such a "polite" tone won't last long with Schumer.
Reid said something similar, angry Bush did not choose a woman or a Hispanic.
(But wait? Are you suggesting race or sex would cause a judge to interpret and apply the law differently? And that's okay to you, Senator? Well, not to me. As I said elsewhere, unlike politicians, judges are NOT supposed to look into their hearts for answers. Their life experience should be irrelevant. And that does not mean life experience and hearts, beliefs, values and all that does not matter. It's just that those things matter only for politicians. Judges are like mathematicians. Do race, sex, or life experience lead to different answers on math questions? So being a female or hispanic means 2 plus 2 equals 5--and that's okay? Schumer would call this a false analogy, but it's not, at least not entirely. The law says what it says. Some interpretations are right. And some are definitely wrong. If you disagree, try teaching Shakespeare for a few years. You'll see interpretations--if they can even be called that--that can only be described as WRONG.)
What Reid said, upset Alito is too male and not hispanic:
Bush "has chosen yet another federal appellate judge to join a court that already has eight justices with that narrow background. . . . President Bush would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys' club."
Aside from the irrelevance of this charge, what about Alito? His name's not exactly Smith or Reid, is it? He may not be hispanic, but he is Italian. Doesn't that count? His family is from a mediterranean nation in southern Europe, not far from Spain. In fact, Alito is the son of first-generation immigrants. Are such roots meaningless to Reid?
What is certain to be of greater concern to Reid is that Alito has often been compared to another Italian, Antonin Scalia. In Alito's present position on the 3rd Circuit, he has often been called "Scalito," because of the conservative nature of his opinions. Personally, such a nickname strikes this writer as a good sign. But not everyone agrees. Check out this press release from the National Italian American Foundation, based in Washington:
The NIAF is distressed by the attempts of some senators and the media (CNN,CBS) to marginalize Judge Samuel Alito's outstanding record, by frequent reference to his Italian heritage and by the use of the nickname, "Scalito." Appropriately, no one mentioned that Justice Breyer was Jewish or suggested that he was lock-step ideologically with the other Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it would have been outrageous to do so. We still do not know Justice Robert's ethnicity.
We are justly proud of Justice Alito's Italian heritage and his sterling academic and judicial records as well as his impeccable integrity. However, he should be considered as an individual. In honor of the memory of the just-departed Rosa Parks the Senate champions of civil rights should insist that Judge Alito be considered only on his extraordinary merits.
A. Kenneth Ciongoli
Chairman of the National Italian American Foundation
You can see this for yourself at the address below. Someday I'll figure out that whole link thing.
I found one or two other interesting comments. Alito was the sole dissenter in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Briefly, Alito felt the state did not violate the Constitution when it required spousal notification before an abortion. For daring to support a state's power to require women to notify their husbands before 'terminating' a pregnancy, Alito is called a "RADICAL." Make of that what you will.
The head of the National Women's Law Center said Alito has a "highly troubling record that raises serious concerns for women in the area of reproductive rights, federalism, and sex discrimination in employment." Troubling in the area of federalism? That was an unexpected charge, even from the wildly pro-abortion crowd. I don't know what it's based on--but I assume they are worried Alito is actually in favor of federalism. God forbid. (You see, once Roe wrested abortion regulations from the states, Roe's supporters began to see federalism itself as a threat.
Senior GOP officials said they hope for hearings and a final vote by the Christmas holiday. That is important given the Court's schedule in January. Big (abortion) cases lie ahead, both on partial-birth abortion and parental notification.
A final thought:
with both sides talking about nothing but abortion with every nomination since Reagan was in office, with every national election in the last twenty years hinging on the topic, with the controversy being over-the-top, beyond anything this nation's seen in so long---
is this really the sort of topic a court should decide? Or could it be that the democratic process might be more appropriate?