Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Right" for the Court?

On my drive to the office today I had occasion to listen to a few minutes of the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sam Alito. I thought it would be a boring, vague and uninformative event.

For the portion I listened to, I was wrong.

And one unexpected thing jumped out at me almost immediately, and oddly didn't change as I listened more.

Judge Alito should be confirmed.

As strongly as I held the belief that Harriet Miers' confirmation should be shot out of a long canon into an eternal abyss, I'm also beginning to feel that Sam Alito's confirmation should be approved - even though I don't necessarily agree with his positions or right-leaning bent.

But there is no question that Judge Alito is an intelligent and highly qualified judge who can easily satisfy the enormous responsibility of being a Supreme Court justice - even the American Bar Association confirms that.

What seems apparent from Alito's testimony, at least today's, is that he does in fact appear to have an understanding of his responsibility to the law, and not an agenda, as a Judge. And to his credit he appears to not shy away from directly answering questions regarding his positions and his previous rulings. Yes, like all nominees he'll shy away from questions on potential future rulings. But Alito is unique in that he has hundreds of existing rulings to talk about. And at least from what I heard, he has no problem talking about those.

To say I was instantly impressed with some of his answers would be an understatement. Perhaps it's because I had low expectations of what I'd hear from these confirmation hearings. I assumed Alito would tiptoe around every question and issue - he did not. And his answers were such that I would find any serious Democratic opposition using tactics such as filibusters to be extremely non-justifiable. Yes - feel free to oppose him on philisophical differences, but don't play games with the process when this is at least a qualified candidate.

So let's get down to the only question most of the "opposition" seems to care about anymore: Roe (personally I think there are MANY more important issues).

Do I care what "attorney" Alito said about the Constitution and Roe back when he was a Republican Administration advocate back in 1985 (20 years ago) more than I care about how "Judge" Alito acted as a federal judge over the past few years in his rulings on cases involving Roe? Nope - couldn't care less. If all his rulings supported those statements (or if he had no rulings at all) then I would care more. As it is, recent actions mean more to me than 20 year old statements.

What are the real facts? As a federal judge, Sam Alito has had three rulings involving Roe. If you had to classify his rulings as "pro-choice" or "anti-abortion" (since my most liberal friends insist that these are the only choices), then it's safe to say that Judge Alito has ruled twice in a pro-choice manner and only once in an anti-abortion manner.

Sorry to disappoint, but that does not indicate someone who advocates an anti-abortion agenda from the bench.

And, knowing the details of that one case that many are calling an anti-abortion ruling, (in which I agree with his ruling and find it in no way a threat to Roe) as a Democrat I personally think he's 3 for 3.

Enough. Case closed. Let's move on from the beaten-to-death abortion issue.

We've found what appears to be a well-qualified, smart, open-minded, law following and precedent following nominee to the Supreme Court.

Might as well keep him - even though any nominee put forth by this administration is suspect by association. And of course, my opinion may change tomorrow...

The Democrats will look foolish (and like raving radicals) at this stage if they try any all-out opposition to this nominee. And, if Sam Alito is not confirmed, woe is any nominee of a future Democratic Administration.

And woe is us, if the current administration gets yet another chance to nominate another Harriet Miers.



At 11:29 AM, Blogger Bob P said...

I'm happy to hear that Samuel Alito appears acceptable to you on the issue of Roe. But I would contend that Roe is no longer the key talking point to be considered in evaluating Mr. Alito's qualification for the high court.

As recent events have shown, the expansion of Executive power is a far greater threat to the integrity of the nation than the abortion debate. And in this area, Slammin' Sammy's views are anything but acceptable. If confirmed, the Judge will have up to three years with Bush at the helm to further expand the "right" of an American President to operate outside the law.

This, to me, is the greatest danger of Alito's ascension to SCOTUS. His views concerning Roe appear encouraging, and that's a good thing. But if he will ultimately help to justify an Imperial Presidency, then Roe is the least of our worries.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger N.J. said...

Well, goodness knows I'm all opposed to the grasp of executive power by the current administration and that is definitely a more serious concern.

But I have heard conflicting reports about Alito's stance on this issue - and unfortunately that wasn't covered during the hearing session I listened to. I will have to watch this issue, and Alito's testimony on it, closely over the next few days/weeks.

With that said, I must sadly say that the reason I write prominently about Roe in this post is not because it is an important issue to me - but because it still does appear to be the issue of choice of the opposition to Alito.

Actually as you know, it has become the issue of choice for the Democrats in their opposition to everything - a fact I find very disheartening. Our party has chosen to leave real and serious issues (such as Iraq, and executive power) largely unaddressed and unchallenged for the "campaign-safe" ground of Roe.


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