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Samuel Alito

26 Jan

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John Kerry and the Filibuster Follies

January 26, 2006 | By | 6 Comments

I’m just wondering who convinced John Kerry that heading up a lost-cause filibuster against Alito would make him look Presidential.

I suppose the real scenario was Kate Michelman telling him that was the way to raise money from the looney Left. Still. He should be listening to Dick Morris instead.

Hillary will vote for Alito. Her political advisor actually made it to the White House.

UPDATE 2-1: For some reason, the update note I put in here earlier this week that Hillary intended to vote against Alito got lost in cyberspace. In fact, she did vote against him. I did think that she might vote for him as part of her Hillary-the-Moderate campaign. But clearly the raising-money-from-lefty-radicals imperative trumped all.

14 Jan

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Inside the Alito Hearings: Political Performance Art Up Close

January 14, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

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Milling around during a break in the hearings on Wednesday, just after Mrs. Alito left in tears

I took a few pictures on Wednesday when I had the opportunity to sit in on the Alito hearings, and I’ve been thinking of how best to describe the atmosphere inside the wood-panelled walls.

The room is much smaller than it appears on television. Dominated by the marble-covered wall behind the Senators, it is a cold, yet oddly intimate room. Television also elongates the distance between the Senators and the nominee. They are, in fact, quite close to each other. The short distance between them filled with camera-men.

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Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)

The room is aesthetically discordant, reeking of the Hart Building’s ’70’s era decor, surrounded by the stately architecture of the other Capitol Hill buildings. On either side of the main hearing room, the wood paneling rolls up to reveal side-rooms where the media line up their cameras.

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Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Directly behind the nominee are the long card-tables where the print media plug in their lap-tops. When one of the Senators referred to an article written that morning by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, complete with a posterboard-sized reproduction of a quote from his story, I saw several of his female collegues poke Dana laughingly.

What was it that I was watching? I wondered. A return to the ancient forum, the air scented with blood-lust? Maybe. But that doesn’t quite capture the sense of high-stakes strategy represented by the chairs behind each Senator crowded with high-octane attorney-advisors. Politics ain’t bean-bag. Some have been calling it a Star Chamber, but with all the cameras rolling, this is open warfare, strategic manuevering for a nation to follow. A fellow watcher murmurs the observation that it apears to be a chess game. Maybe. But, as one commenter here noted, this is far more than a game.

Finally, I woke this morning thinking of a book that I had enjoyed very much initially, but never finished. The main story line was gripping, but the author spent so much time wandering off into the sub-stories, that I lost interest.

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Senator Joe Biden (D-DE)

The Democratic strategy in the Alito hearings strikes me much the same way. There is a gripping central story of an impressive and formidable nominee — a man of character and integrity, admired by his colleagues, respected by acquaintances, liked by his friends and clearly loved by his family.

But the Democrats are determined to pursue, and develop in the public’s perception, sub-stories in an attempt to diminish him. CAP, Vanguard, strip-searches and privacy rights. . .

Later in the week, we hear that the excerpt from a CAP-published article that Senator Kennedy has been berating Judge Alito with was actually a sophomoric attempt at satire. Kennedy doesn’t care; he’s just throwing the spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

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Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

And then, the hearings draw to a close and the Democrats start pushing their stall tactic. Chairman Specter and Senator Leahy toss back and forth at one another, bitingly, over next week’s schedule. Until, at last, Leahy says to Specter: “You and I will talk about it over the weekend.”

The cameras, whirring and clicking, memorializing the slightest movements of the protagonists, are the key. The real horse-trading will be done “over the weekend” over dinner, behind closed doors. These hearings in front of the cameras are about something else entirely: this is political performance art.

At its finest. And worst.

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The Witness Returns: Judge Alito seated in the center; Mrs. Alito just behind in the tweed jacket

Cross-posted at frcblog.com.

11 Jan

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Mrs. Alito is Human

January 11, 2006 | By | 7 Comments

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Ian at the Political Teen has the video of Mrs. Alito’s tears today. It will break your heart to watch her try to hold tears back as Senator Graham talks about the ordeal their family has gone through. I think it’s a good thing for a little humanity to break through these bloodless proceedings.

Even if the Democrats don’t have the common decency to realize that they have gone too far in their political game, they should have the political sense to realize that the cruelty of the Kabuki dance they have been subjecting the Alito’s to isn’t going to sit well with the American people.

Blogger Row at the Alito Hearings

January 11, 2006 | By | One Comment

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Tim Petty of the RSC and Scott Johnson of Powerline

Spent the day today at Blogger Row up on Capitol Hill, covering the Alito hearings, courtesy of the Senate Republican Conference — who’ve caught the blogging vision big-time. They brought so many Senators by to see us that it was hard to get blog posts up — I’ve got some great quotes coming up for you from Senators Hatch, Brownback and Kyl and Congressman Trent Franks.

Anyway, the real fun, of course was the bloggers! I got to spend the day sitting with Scott Johnson of Powerline, Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters and his First Mate Marcia, Ian Schwartz from Political Teen, Tim Chapman from Townhall.com, Rob Bluey frmo Human Events and Alitoblog.com, Patrick Cleary of National Association of Manufacturers — they have a blog! — and Flip from Suitably Flip.

They’ve all got great coverage of the day.

11 Jan

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Liberal Progressives for Alito

January 11, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

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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.

Alito Clerks Support the Judge Unanimously

January 11, 2006 | By | No Comments

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Over the course of a 15-year career on the bench, Judge Alito now has a group of 54 former clerks. Remarkably, this group has come out unanimously supporting the judge.

I’m on Capitol Hill today reporting on the hearings and I’ve just met three of the judge’s former clerks, all sporting jaunty red “Former Alito Clerk” buttons.

From left to right: David Moore, now a law professor at the University of Kentucky; Jeffrey Wasserstein and Keith Levenberg, both now in private practice.

All three agreed that they did not recognize the caricature being presented of Judge Alito as a political ideologue. Jeffrey, in particular, spoke fervently about the judge’s lack of political bias. He told the story that the professor who recommended him to the judge for his clerkship told Alito: “By the way, Jeff’s a flaming liberal.”

Alito’s response? “So what?”

Jeff added:

I consider myself a fairly liberal Democrat — but we came out at the same place 95% of the time. Where we disagreed, it was probably because he’s a lot smarter. I did not see the ideologue — [Judge Alito] is an incredibly fair person.

Jeff described a process of decision-making that Alito uses that is exactly like what the judge recounted to the Senators — he reviews all the facts and precedents that are relevant before making up his mind.

Keith responded that, while Alito certainly participated in casual lunches and conversations outside his chambers, that the judge took the judicial process very seriously. Recalling the story that Ronald Reagan did not take his jacket off in the Oval Office, Keith said that Alito “thought it was inappropriate to bring politics into the judicial chambers.” They all agreed that they had seen “an approach to juding that was apolitical.”

They also said, “unfortunately, you got the three white guys” among the Former Alito Clerks. They wanted to emphasize that Alito had many female clerks — including several from Princeton (which counters the claim that his CAP membership indicates an antithesis to women at Princeton) and many minorities.

Lastly, the picture they painted of the judge was one of a really nice person. David told the story of a young clerk becoming seriously ill in chambers . . . and Judge Alito held the trashcan while he threw up!

Cross-posted at FRCBlog.com.

Justification for Voting Against Alito. . .

January 10, 2006 | By | No Comments

Here’s what three of the Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee had to say today about Judge Alito’s performance during the hearings. . .

Senator Leahy:

You strike me as a very cautious and careful person. And I say that with admiration, because a judge should be that.

Senator Biden:

I don’t think anybody thinks you are a man lacking in integrity. I don’t think anybody thinks that you are a person who’s not independent.

and again:

The people I’ve spoken to on your court — and it’s my circuit — have a very high regard for you. And I think you’re a man of integrity.

and Biden again:

I appreciate [Judge Alito] being responsive.

Senator Durbin:

I think it’s been interesting. I think he’s made a good presentation . . . .

Sounds like good reasons to vote against someone. . . they all will.

21 Nov

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Biden Talking Filibuster

November 21, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

On Fox News Sunday, Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) reupped the political swagger, threatening an Alito filibuster.

I still say the political math holds: they don’t have the numbers.

(Tip: Drudge.)

05 Nov

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Colbert King and the Caring Constitution

November 5, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

Quick question: Who wanted Judge Janice Rogers Brown on the Supreme Court? And who was it who blocked her?

Let’s refresh our memory. Supporters of this highly qualified woman-who-happens-to-be-black were conservatives. Opponents were liberal Democrats.

And yet. Comes today Colbert King, writing in the Washington Post:

Thus sayeth the high priests of far-right conservatism: To be worthy of appointment to the Supreme Court, a nominee must be scholarly, a great intellect and a possessor of sterling conservative credentials. In addition, the nominee should come equipped with a well-established constitutional philosophy, experience in constitutional law and the ability to divine what the Constitution means through analysis of its words and structure. In addition, they say, the nominee must have a proven ability to write clearly, argue incisively and have well-known opinions on judicial philosophy.

Okay. . . And the problem with that is. . . ? Colbert continues:

Unspoken, but well understood, is that to be short-listed it certainly doesn’t hurt to be white, male and straight. . .

That is an absolute slander. Shame on you Colbert King.

Just take a look at the poll I ran here on this blog. Rogers was the number one pick.

King then goes on to assert that we need people with the right “values” serving on the Supreme Court. In the process he brings us the Caring Constitution:

Missing from the litany of legal virtues approved by the high priests is any expression of values, any awareness of the court’s leavening role in society, any recognition of the court as a bulwark against the majority’s worst instincts. They seem to think it wrong for a judge to search for a constitutional way to “to help, or at least protect, those [who] have a moral claim on the society” . . .

This all sounds good. The problem is that it is intellectually soft and corrupts the role of the courts. This paragraph cited above is a bald articulation of judicial activism.

There is no need for a judge to wander the highways and byways looking for a way to protect the needy — that path is already set out for them through careful interpretation of the Constitution itself.

* * *

Hat tip to Captain Ed for his excellent dissection of King’s piece.

All About Alito

November 2, 2005 | By | No Comments

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Samuel Alito

Looking for Alito’s opinion on, well, just about anything? It’s all right here.

And I do mean “all.” The University of Michigan has been compiling Alito’s opinions and it’s a full page of links. Very helpful.