Friday, January 13, 2006

Stonewall Sam Alito

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

"Alito's strategy is to be invisible in plain sight." Michael Scherer

We've been in Florida visiting the folks. Spent a lot a time outside and less time than usual in front of the TV. But the Senate held hearings this week, right? About confirming Sam Alito for the US Supreme Court.

Did anything happen in the Alito hearings?

Oh wait, somebody made Alito's wife cry! I saw front page coverage of that. Along with endless clips of a resolutely middle-American-looking woman welling up with tears and using her hankie, then rising and leaving the camera's view with nary a flounce or an audible sob. Heart-rending. Oh, the humanity.

Then another time some guy with white hair--had to be a senator--pulled out a giant chart with graphs and percentages displaying how many questions Alito was asked and answered compared to the hearings on Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Alito's percentage of queries and replies was higher. Now that was riveting political theater.

Before we left there were rumblings about a good healthy debate.

But we were so busy swimming, playing tennis and jet-skiing, we didn't catch most of the 9-hours-a-day hearings. Whenever we did tune in, it seemed less a political process than a badly produced school play. Everybody was speechifying. Bloviating. Pontificating. Gesturing. Posturing. Squabbling.

Well, not everybody. The nominee was preternaturally calm. Remote. Inscrutable. Determinedly equivocal. I could swear we were watching Mr. Peepers Goes to Washington.

You have to hand it to Alito. He came off as a combination of a mild-mannered nerd and Mohammed Ali in a suit and tie. Polite to a fault. Modest. Soft-spoken. Yet bobbing, weaving and executing the fanciest footwork in the room without breaking a sweat.

He had a non-answer for everything. If it weren't for his previous rulings, memberships, memos and other papers, we'd have no clue where he stands on anything. He even managed to equivocate when asked if it were true he's a Springsteen fan. "I am, to some degree, yes," Alito said.

We're talking about The Boss here, people. Not a constitutional touchstone. What, it's un-American to like Born to Run? Well, maybe. For certain it's anti-Republican.

Make no mistake, Alito's a very dangerous man. Chosen by George W. Bush. A conservative's Conservative. Another Scalia. Another Thomas. A man who believes more firmly in Executive Powers than in individual rights. A strict Constructionist who will look backward, not forward.

Here's the biggest clue:

"In interpreting the Constitution," Judge Alito said Wednesday, "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." New York Times
Samuel Alito's going to be the newest member of the US Supreme Court in 2006.

It's not just Roe V. Wade in danger now. It's all of us.



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3:39 PM  
Blogger @nooil4pacifists said...


Exactly where is it written that Conservatives are barred from the court? Exactly where is it written that courts may freely disregard the text of the Constitution in pursuit of some amorphous "spirit?" Exactly how -- if unwritten spirit is suitable reasoning -- does one distinguish a séance producing "friendly" as opposed to "unfriendly" spirits? Exactly how -- if the text isn't a touchstone -- can one oppose a later court conjuring up the spirit of reversing old but erroneous precedent?

Your approach sanctifies your own opinion, while necessarily stripping any neutral basis on which the outcome and reasoning you demand could be defended. Put differently, your philosophy pre-supposes you rightfully may exclude mine--all while contending conservatives are hostile to individual rights.

While such syllogisms may suffice in a college dorm bull-session, don't confuse it with jurisprudence.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Jeez, Carl, you worked hard putting all those links in there. Why not just speak for yourself.

5:02 PM  

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