January 11, 2006
Liberal Progressives for Alito
Jim Goneia and Susan Sullivan met while clerking for Judge Alito in 1990-91. They are now married, with two children. Their 9-year-old son says, “I like Judge Alito. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t exist.”
Both Jim and Susan describe themselves as “social progressives” and they are both “pro-choice.” But they adamantly support Judge Alito. And it’s not just because of their son’s existence, as good a reason as that might be.
Here’s what Susan says about her support for Judge Alito:
I am a social progressive; I am a pro-choice advocate; I support Planned Parenthood and many organizations that have taken a stance against Judge Alito. Which I believe is unwarranted. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a jurist and as a man. As a liberal, progressive, I have no fear of seeing him on the Supreme Court.
One other thing I would say is that the assertion that the judge in any way would discriminate against women or minorities is personally offensive. It denigrates the whole process that you have to resort to those tactics. [Dredging up the CAP allegations.] Any one who knows him would agree that that’s just offensive.
If I hadn’t known him I might have had the same skepticism, because I don’t trust this administration. It’s very clear to me that the Senators all have constituents and are intent on furthering their own agenda.
So why did Susan decide to come forward and support Alito so publicly?
There’s a real dilemma as a progressive if it appears that you have adopted a conservative agenda. I had to be comfortable that it [going public] was the honorable thing to do. So first I came out here and met with Senators privately. But when you see so much thrown out there that is incredibly inaccurate and misleading. . . .
Jim felt the same way — that it was the misrepresentations about Alito’s character that forced him to come forward:
I voted for Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein — the most striking thing to me I feel that it’s no longer a search for the truth, but a way to discredit a man whose integrity is unassailable. That smacks of desperation to me, and I find it embarrassing to watch that process.
The judge as a man can’t stand up and defend himself in this forum; he needs other people to say that for him. That’s one of the reasons I got involved.
The suggestion that Judge Alito would be involved actively, [with CAP] or in any other way, is so offensive, that it’s really hard to sit and watch that take place. It’s simply so .. . it’s a terrible attempt to mistate the character of this man in front of millions of people that is really difficult to watch.
I asked them both how they would feel, as self-described pro-choice advocates, if Alito turns out to be part of a bloc on the court that overturns Roe v. Wade.
They both served with Alito during the Casey decision. And Susan replied that she would feel the same way if Roe is overturned that she did when she read Alito’s dissent in Casey: she didn’t agree, but she respected the process he went through to arrive at his decision.
She added that while on the 3rd Circuit, Judge Alito has both affirmed and applied Roe. . . so she doesn’t believe anyone knows how he will rule in a specific case. And the fact that he has written opinions that are popular with some, and decisions that are popular with others shows his impartiality.