Friday, January 13, 2006

Sam Alito Worries Me

It's beginning to look as if Mr. Alito will be the next Supreme Court justice, even though the Democrats are still waffling about it. On one level, he's an impressive guy; he certainly is more qualified for the post than, say, C. Thomas. He says all the right things about the rule of law, and considering the facts, and reviewing precedent... He even seems to be a Nice Guy.

If only his record of decisions on the Third Circuit didn't show him firmly placed, about three steps to the right of Attila the Hun. When he reviews all the facts and considers all the precedents, he always seems to vote against individuals (yes, women have to notify their husbands before getting an abortion), for corporate privilege (no, Congress can't ban the sale of machine guns nationwide). And he's a known supporter of the Imperial Presidency. At least he finally seems to have accepted the "one man, one vote" principle.

What I really see here is a firm supporter of states' rights. This will take us right back to the 19th century (which, as we know, is where Dubya wants us to go anyhow). With Alito on the Court, a number of things now regulated nationally will depend on the state you happen to live in: a woman's right to an abortion; the ability to buy certain firearms; whether wetlands and wilderness are protected. Dark times ahead, I'm afraid.


  1. 19th century -- yes, but then women had abortion rights for a good part of it -- up until the mid 19th when laws came out against abortion to protect women for health reasons.

    (Why should people legislate on a medical procedure??)

    But when he wouldn't even stand up in questioning for a convicted killer proven innocent by later evidence being given constitutional protection from being murdered by the state anyway -- this is scarey stuff!!!

    Hope the Dems wake up and filibuster (what are they saving it for -- this guy is awful!)

  2. Anonymous7:22 AM

    If I remember correctly, it was at least in part the medical community's campaign against midwives that led to taking away from women the right to an abortion.

    Can't believe Alito's judicial record, and its implications for what he will bring to the Court, has gotten lost in the fog. I don't care whether he's nice or not, I don't care if his wife is given to bursting out in tears, I don't care if he might rise to the stature becoming a Supreme Court justice (even though it has happened in the past, is an ill-advised crapshoot, and makes advise and consent pointless). I do care about how he thinks and the decisions he has rendered, which are normally prologue to how he will vote as a justice, which is precisely why the Federalist Society villified Meyers and insisted on Alito.

    Where in his record is there any indication that there is more to this man that what he has shown himself in the past to be as a federal judge? Did Bush rise above himself as President?

    Anonymous David

  3. Anonymous8:08 AM

    A faint hope is that new swing voters will emerge on the Court (Kennedy and, possibly, Roberts) and though definitely to the right of the last Court, will keep the Wingnuts from driving the judicial bandwagon over the highwall in the first turn. There's always hope.

  4. Kate anne, I'm not sure women ever had the "right" to abortion. Remember, in most of the 19th century and before, in Europe, women were effectively chattel property of their menfolk. They didn't really have anything you could describe as "rights".

    They may have had freer access to abortion than in the early 20th century, due to midwives' expertise, as anonymous David says; but so many things could go wrong with pregnancy before the 20th century that it was probably hard to say, for any given "miscarriage", whether it was intentional or not. Also, men (including doctors) knew so little about the female reproductive system before the 20th century that a midwife skilled in herbal medicine could get away with a lot. That's not the same as a right.

    Anonymous David, I don't think we can expect anything from Alito that hasn't showed in his judicial record to date, which is why I'm so gloomy about the prospect, because he's almost certainly going to be confirmed. I think our chance of him turning into David Souter is very small.

  5. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Feinstein caved. What is she after, the Joe Liebermann award (he who caved on the issue of counting illegal military absentee ballots in clear violation of Florida election law).

    Only reason Alito would uphold Roe v. Wade would be because he was told to (he does the bidding of the business community, and has no qualms about simply employing whatever judicial rationale he can come up with for whatever pre-determined decision he is supposed to render). If Republican fat cats don't want it overturned, it won't happen. Has nothing to do with judicial integrity on Alito's part. His is the record of a whore for corporate intere$t$ (which can be said of way too many justices in the history of the court).

    Only reason he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade is if either the Federalist Society has that much clout with him or his Catholic orthodoxy, since he seems to me to be soft on theocracy, drives him to place religious belief above the civic obligations of his office.

    Anonymous Green Swamp David

  6. Well, David, it looks like we'll find out. I hope you're overreacting to him; there's a certain amount of evidence (not derived from what he says) that he may be more independent in his views than you think. I'm particularly thinking of the people who work with him, who testified. They seem to think he really does judge cases on the facts and not on externalities. But there's no way to find out except to wait.

  7. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Nothing for it but to hope, but as they say, hope is not a strategy. I do share your hope that what I posted will prove to be an overreaction, but I think he is also a gifted con artist.

    I try to imagine what might cause him to rise above his judicial record, not to mention his career-path record, but I keep coming up with a blank.

    I also think we are at a point in our history that muddling through with whoever happens to wind up on the Court is a luxury we can no longer afford, if we ever could.


  8. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Maybe Feinstein is reconsidering? However, there are apparently 8 Democrats still unwilling to back a filibuster. One is Mary Landrieu, who is proving a disappointment far too often. Blanche Lincoln is pretty down to earth, but she did vote for the prescription drug bill on the theory it was better than nothing for her poor constituents, and I imagine Arkansans feel the same way about filibusters as Southerners in general have always (foolishly) felt about labor unions. Ben Nelson faces the same problem, I guess, being from Nebraska, where sustained winds used to generate enough static electricity on my uncle's Studebaker to prevent it from starting.

    I gather all Republican senators back the imperial presidency nominee. Pity Specter, Collins, Snowe, Hagel, Craig, and a few other Republicans can't place the Constitution above party loyalty.