Friday, January 13, 2006

Judging Alito

I watched almost every minute of the Alito hearings (thank goodness for my ability to multi-task). I was thoroughly unimpressed by the preening senators, and hardly disagree with Biden's suggestion that committee hearings be effectively scrapped. But since they're all we have at this point ...

Judge Alito's responses were worrying. He seems incredibly favorable toward a (nearly all-) powerful executive branch. His lack of commitment to the settled nature of the Griswold cases was palpable (even as Judge Roberts' was rather more evident). He refused to answer questions about his views on the extent to which Congress can utilize its Commerce Clause power. His stated judicial philosophy ("I think we should look to the text of the Constitution, and we should look to the meaning that someone would have taken from the text of the Constitution at the time of its adoption") aligns him closely with Justices Scalia and Thomas and less with those justices who look pragmatically at the implications of their decisions on today's world.

Were I a senator, I would not find myself able to vote in support of Judge Alito's nomination. However, I find no "extraordinary circumstances" in his record that would warrant a filibuster, and would/will not support one. I hope that the Alito opponents do not take the country down that road.

More than anything, Alito's nomination should be used as a clarion call to the centrist and liberal grassroots of America. If we want justices less in the vein of Scalia and Thomas, we must elect enough senators who feel similarly. Remember that in November.

[Update: Just to show you how funny we centrists can be, Alan Stewart Carl over at Maverick Views comes down just to the opposite of me on this one, with some fine arguments in that direction. - 7:25 p.m.]


At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Charles Amico said...

Amen, Amen. Again I find myself in agreement with you. I do not support a fillibuster of the candidate but I am calling for all Democrats to NOT confirm him as a matter of principle. If nothing else it will send a message to the Court and Alito that almost 50% of the country is against his nomination. That should give the Court pause and cause it to reflect on what it is doing to this country. It couldn't be more divided with a President whos stated he was a candidate that would bring both sides together, he was to be a uniter not a divider. Let the record show he was the most divisive President we have ever had since the Civil War, that wasn't so civil.

One thing you left out was that I gleened that Alito supports some conditions where the President may in fact avoid the laws of Congress as Commander in Chief. This occured during the Feingold questioning. I also like Schumer's line of questioning which posed this. "Let's assume the President can wire tap and this is Constitutional under the Commander in Chief powers implied by the Constitution. Does this mean he has the power to search homes also? Alito hemmed and hawd again, not answering the question but appeared to be trying to think that one through as well.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger JBD said...

Charles, thanks much for your additional comments. You're right, I'd quite forgotten to include my thoughts on Alito's answers to that particular line of questioning and about the president's ability to do whatever he pleases. That certainly ranks among one of the most troubling aspects of the whole business.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Well, Jeremy, I think we split the divide on this one. Don't know if you read my post on the matter, but I offered my grudging support for Alito, but only because, to me, he doesn't seem like a man with an agenda, a la Scalia and Thomas. Maybe that's because he was well-coached. But he seemed just pragmatic enough to be acceptable. But I could have easily come down on the other side.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

Hi there guys. Long time, no see. Jeremy, I don't know if you remember but when Alito was first nominated I was fairly excited about it because he had some outstanding support from several liberal and centrist folks that I admired.

Now I have to say that as a cipher he was perfect during the hearings. I still have no clue as to how his mind works, however, his past rulings and writings haven't given me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Hey Alan, I'd missed your piece but have read it now. I hope you're right, and like you, it was a close call for me as well.


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