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January 28, 2006
Alito Blogging

I've been frustrated and ambivalent on the Alito situation, so I haven't really blogged it much.

The nomination of Harriet Meiers was a slap in the face to the USofA public and an insult to the fine Justices who have served on our Court through the centuries.

As time went on, it became clear that it was not and never had been a serious nomination. It was a political ploy designed to draw fire, get the Left in an uproar, and wear them out before the real nominee's name was put forward. (It was also designed to do just what it did on the Right - get them fired up around a "good" nominee.)

Alito is a trickier case. Unlike Meiers, he's qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. He's an actual jurist, not a political consultant. Based on this, he should be confirmed.

On the other hand he's an extremist replacing a moderate, which is a bad idea. He'll swing the Court far to the Right and we'll be stuck with him for 40 years or so. Changing the balance of the Court is a bad, bad idea. Yes, the Court is currently deeply divided on many issues. So is the USofA population, okay? As far as that goes, they reflect their country rather well.

Regardless of Bush's crowing about his 1-point or whatever it was (before the question of election fraud is considered) "mandate" rational people see the election numbers and understand that the country isn't currently tending that far to the Right. Or the Left. Thus, a moderate Court best serves the interest of our moderate electorate.

Besides. Even if Kerry were in office and we had a Democratic majority in Congress, I'd still prefer a divided Court. When you leave the radical lunacy of the Rightwing neocons out of the picture, there are good qualities on both the Left and the Right in this country and I think the Supreme Court should reflect both sides of that equation.

In my mind, the problem is that Alito, nominated to replace a conservative Justice, would have been acceptable. (Yes, there are questionable things in his record, but he's a conservative. If I didn't find his record irritating, he wouldn't be much of a conservative.) He's only unacceptable as a replacement for a moderate Justice.

Based on that, I haven't been able to climb off the fence about his nomination. The illness of Sandra Day O'Connor's husband is not only sad for their family; it's created a major problem for the entire country.

In short, the timing of her announcement that she wanted to step down could not be worse. The only way the Republicans are going to stay in control of Congress after November's elections is by outright election fraud or an outbreak of weak-kneed bed-wetting on the part of the Left. Without a party-line majority (and too many Congressmen who are Democrat in name only), the Bush Administration would not be able to push a candidate such as this through as a replacement for O'Connor.

So, you know, as a Liberal I can't support him sitting on the Supreme Court.

As someone who favors balance and even tension in our Federal systems, I don't approve of another decidedly Right-leaning voice on the Supreme Court, swinging it to a solidly Conservative majority.

But as someone who tends to look first at qualifications, I have to admit he's qualified* to sit on the Supreme Court.

He is (in my eyes) an extremist...but would I find someone as far to the Left as he is to the Right to be "extreme" or would I think of them as "sensible"?

I've been puzzling over this for weeks and weeks.


* You kids today tend to look at things like opposition to letting women into top-line colleges or a whiff of racism as reason to boycott someone. And that makes me really happy, because it's a sign of how far your generation has come.

But it's important for you to remember that the "norm" in the 60s and even the 70s was a very different world. All that stuff you hear about college kids marching for justice and equality...statistically that was a very small portion of the student body. Most of them were just like most students today. Studying to get theirs, looking at their own personal goals, surrounding themselves with "people like me" and not thinking much about the "other's" point of view.

To discriminate against women or minorities, that was the norm when these guys were young. Short of a membership in the KKK or proof of actual lawbreaking, I'm not sure it's valid to hold someone to today's standard for how they behaved 35 years ago. I

I don't like it, and it's not how I or my friends acted, but then I'm younger than them, aren't I? (Also, as a female, the whole "equal rights for women" thing would have loomed a lot larger on my radar.)

And also, I think some of you youngsters see "equality" as a sort of fait accompli and make the mistake of not understanding just what a hard, slow slog it was before "equality" went mainstream.

The whole concepts of equal rights for women, minorities, and gays arrived, were adopted by some who forced it down the throats of others (some of whom are still fighting), and immediately came under attack by the 80s neocons. It's a tribute to the truly liberal core values of this country that, in sspite of all the Right could do in the 80s, these values belong to almost all of us today. (Well, and also it's due to the fact that the Reagan Administration was more interested in war than almost anything else.)

But Im getting into a whole different rant, aren't I? Sorry.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:50 AM


It's moot now, but this post has been kind of bugging me. It's not that Alito is more conservative than the person he's replacing. It's that he fundamentally doesn't accept the notion of "separate but equal" branches of government, and if you don't have that, what's the point of a Supreme Court?

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at January 31, 2006 08:35 PM

Jonathan - I had hoped the post would spark some comments about why I was wrong to be ambivalent.

I've been considering your words and you have a definite point.

My problem is that I'm aware that people don't always vote they way you expect them to when they become Supreme Court Justices. (Who expected Sandra Day O'Connor to become such a staunch abortion rights defender?)

I didn't blog much about Alito, but I did a lot of reading about him and his nomination. In truth, I found much that worried me, but I didn't find what looked to me like a smoking gun.

Yes, he's a lot more conservative than an intelligent person can be comfortable with, but ever since I realized that I'm not a centrist (I honestly thought I was) but am, instead, sitting to the left of the Left, I've distrusted my own personal judgement on whether or not someone is "too" conservative.

It takes something like the Bush Administration's open contempt for the law and the checks and balances of our constitution to convince me that it's not my imagination, that someone really is a wingnut and a dangerous extremist.

Posted by: Anne at February 3, 2006 03:28 PM