January 11, 2006

Hearing Check

I was watching Fox News today (well, my dad was, and I was doing the dishes) and the big news story was how evil, malevolent, and brutal those Dems are who are questioning Alito. Now, I think nearly all Dem Senators on that committee have made total asses of themselves (and for the record, I find absolutely no reason why Alito does not deserve confirmation), but I find it a bit rich that conservatives are calling out liberals for attempted character assassination.

I mean, the Republican Party was the one that did that swift-boating thing, right? And the one that waged total war on Richard Clarke, yeah? And the one who launched an abortive attack on Jack Murtha? And the one that annihilated one of their own—Harriet Miers—rightly, yes, but nevertheless relentlessly, mercilessly, and even gleefully. I mean, Harriet Miers was supposedly a nice lady. And conservatives didn't feel too bad about raking her over the coals.

I really think the Dem Senators in that room suck balls. Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer should be put out to pasture someplace or given a teaching job at Cornell. And I think they're flogging a bunch of dead horses—none of their objections amount to something that should sink a judicial appointment. But Brit Hume whining about those mean, mean Dems asking mean, mean questions of Judge Alito? Please, the man's from New Jersey. I seriously doubt today was the worst day in his life.

Edit: For the record, this was really fucking dumb of me.


  1. "for the record, I find absolutely no reason why Alito does not deserve confirmation"

    I'm going to assume that you find no reason to block Alito's confirmation because you are wholly ignorant of his record. You should read this, and I encourage you to email me if you'd like me to provide you with full opinions.

    Also, I think that this post exemplifies just why we as democrats have been so unable to prevent this country's slide into theocracy. Just why exactly do you feel it necessary to so vitriolically insult some of the most powerful and liberal Democratic Senators? Republicans know not to go after their own well-connected ideologues because they get shit done. Party loyalty is necessary if we are to regain control. Say what you will about Ted Kennedy, but at least he knows what side he's on.

    Sorry to be so harsh, but I think this is important. The liberties of everyone, particularly women and members of all sorts of minority groups are in grave danger right now, and one is honestly either "with us or against us" in a very real way.

  2. I was not ignorant of his record, but I read the document from the American Way. I am not convinced that the cases presented make Alito a racist or sexist or evil or whatever. Were Alito replacing Scalia instead of O'Connor, would these cases seem to matter as much? I don't think so. I realize that it is significant that Alito is replacing O'Connor, but we're simply not going to get a moderate up there. Alito is an intelligent man, many who disagree with him ideologically have attested to his impartiality, and I have read significant and convincing rebuttals to many of the main objections--Casey, the strip-search, Vanguard, etc. I'm simply unconvinced that he's a bigot.

    I'll have more, but in a separate post.

  3. I disagree, Andrew. The cases matter not because we don't like his opinion but because he is a bad judge. He doesn't respect precedent, he has proven himself to lack integrity, and he allows his political motivations to dictate, not simply inform, his decisions. I don't want a justice who has refused to recuse himself when his presiding is clearly inappropriate (and when he pledged to recuse himself in such situations). I don't want a justice who has been the lone dissenter on more cases than anyone else in his circuit. Sure, I also support my uterus remaining in my abdomen rather in the hands of old men. Sure, I also believe in treatment as equals rather than equal treatment in an unequal society. But even if you disagree with all that, Alito is just not qualified.

  4. Anonymous4:11 AM


    If Alito should have recused himself, then why did the ABA give him their highest ranking by a unanimous vote? Remember, ABA rankings also take into account integrity. And don't forget that Leahy called the whole thing mularky.

    As for your comment about being a lone dissenter - that cuts both ways. Justice Holmes was frequently a lone dissenter, and Justice Harlan I made a living by being the lone dissenter. But both justices were on the left side of things, so it's probably okay, right? But a little consistency would be nice... which brings me back to the recusal issue. Breyer refused to recuse himself in a case in which he had a direct financial interest (he invested in a company that was party to the case) and Ginsburg did not recuse herself when her husband had a direct financial interest. Should we never have confirmed them?

    And as for precedent - this bugs the hell out of me. The only precedents that seem to be held up in the highest regard are those that fit well to the political ideologies of the questioner. Should Plessy v. Ferguson have been overturned? How about Bowers v. Hardwick? Or the case that dealt with the execution of the mentally ill, which was overturned 14 years after the original decision? How much weight do we give precedent when those cases can bind us to undesirable and unjust outcomes?

    Finally, I'll defer to his colleagues on the 3rd circuit who stood up there under oath and testified on Alito's behalf. They were from both sides of the ideological spectrum, and they all agreed that Alito should be confirmed. I'll trust a bunch of Circuit Appeal judges before the People for the American Way any day.

  5. Hello, Anonymous. First, a lengthy aside: thanks for wasting my time by implying that I think all precedent should stay set forever. Do you see how saying shit like that just makes everything else you say less interesting and more difficult to take seriously? You really don't think I believe all precedent should stay in place forever, right? So why rely on such inane hyperbole?

    Anyway, to what some might call the substance of your argument: being a lone dissenter is kosher, except when you are doing so not for legal reasons but for political ones. We could argue forever about that distinction, and I'm the first to admit it's tenuous, but for myself, I think it's clear what Alito is up to. His Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion in particular reeks of it. As far as his recusing himself goes, the problem is that he pledged in his confirmation hearings to recuse himself in a very specific scenario, and when the scenario occurred, he didn't. Whether or not Ginsburg et. al. should have recused themselves, I don't know. It's a fine point to make, except that I meant that pledging to recuse and then not doing so in a given scenario is the problem. I do know what lying is, though.

    And lots of good people have stood up for Alito. I just don't subscribe to the ad hominem fallacy. It's good to take that kind of thing into consideration, but if you're making your decision ultimately on what other people think, well, that's up to you. I like to read the opinions and take the analysis into consideration. Call me crazy.

    I don't know if you're the same Anonymous that posts frequently, but I think I speak for all of us when I say I'm really thankful that you read and post here- I certainly wouldn't have the patience to do so regularly on a blog that made me so vitriolic. I mean that sincerely. At the same time, however, it's hard to wade through your occasional leaps of logic (i.e. I heart all precedent), baseless and non sequitor claims of hypocrisy (i.e. comments about consistency when I haven't said anything about other specific lone dissenters), and unnecessary, constant hyperbole (again with the precedent). It's smart of you to point out other lone dissenters, because I think that does slice both ways, but it's unfortunate I have to wade through all the other stuff to get to it.