Monday, October 31, 2005
Okay, maybe I was right about the whole Harriet Miers-was-supposed-to-fail conspiracy. President Bush nominated Samuel Alito, an appelate judge from the Third Federal Circuit, to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on early indications he is absolutely the opposite of Harriet Miers. Alito has 15 years of experience on the bench, an overwhelming body of work(more than newly minted Chief Justice, John Roberts) Yes, he is a conservative and that cannot be denied, however, my early observation is that he is a thinker and appears to work the merits of a case. He went to Princeton and Yale, which gives him the elitist intellect creditials. Of course the liberals are furious with this choice because he has some anti-abortion leanings as well as other issues that are near and dear to the bleeding heart. Yet I think based on the initial evidence, he does not strike me as an idealogue nor does he seem like one who would decide a case along a conservative line just for the sake of it. I think he is more Roberts than Scalia to contrary of what others are saying. The only question I want answered is whether or not he will openly look at the case, apply the Constitution as the Founding Fathers intended, and do his best not to be a US Senator. Some other thoughts on the nomination:
- Senate Democrats are operating on the mentality that Bush was beholden to them to pick someone who was at least a moderate if not someone like David Souter. When Clinton filled his appointments he chose Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer who had been for the most part on the left side of the spectrum. Both were voted in overwhelmingly by the Senate without so much as a peep from the Republicans. Based on the current Senate numbers and the result of the last three elections, the American people have voted for a conservative agenda. It will be interesting if the Democrats opt to pull out the filibuster for Alito. I have viewed the filibustering of judicial nominees a grave threat to the Consituational process of Senate confirmations. What the Democrats essentially do with the filibuster is usurp the duly elected power of the Republicans by requiring them to have 60 votes to approve a nominee when the Constitution clearly calls for a simple majority to confirm such posts. When the Founding Fathers installed the filibuster, I do nto think it was there intent to have a minority use it as a weapon to halt the exercise of duly elected authority. Republicans have been far too meek towards the Democrats and given the current White House woes they may be minority 18 months from now so it would be in their best interest to use the power while they have it.
- The speed at which this new nominee came out and the fact he is so very qualified lends more credence to the theory that the Miers nomination was a clear act of misdirection. There appears to have been some clear political gain to Miers withdrawing and then the nomination of Alito. For starters it appears that Bush is simply appeasing the conservative base when it actuality was has happened is he provoked them with Miers then gave them Alito which fire them up all the more. The quick switcheroo has also caught Democrats off guard and they are scrambling to get on point. Also, I think the fact the Miers process went so long it makes confirming Alito easier since the timetable is shorter. Democrats probably do not want this to go into recess where Bush may appoint him anyway so it pushes the matter along. One final caveat is the whole timing of the Miers withdrawal and subsequent nomination of Alito has conveniently isolated the CIA leak indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. If anyone thinks this was all accident, they are not paying attention.
- Since abortion will be the central topic of this nomination, I would once again like to point out the erroneous position of the media that overturning Roe v. Wade would result in a ban on abortion. Roe v. Wade simply states that the government cannot restrict certain repoductive services for women. Roe v. Wade cannot be overturned per se since it is already a decided case and cannot be litigated again. A new law resticting abortions would have to come before the court with broad encroachments on Roe for the SCOTUS to overturn it. Besides even if you can assume Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito(if confirmed) vote to restrict abortion I am not sure Anthony Kennedy would concur and if that is the court makeup, he becomes the swing vote. Striking down Roe v Wade makes abortion a state decided issue. Abortion would still be available, even in states which voted for Bush in 2004 because some of those states(i.e. NC) are Democrat controlled on the state level. If conservatives want to end abortion they should bring a case to have a fetus received the protections of the 14th amendment, then you might have something.
- It should be noted that if Alito gets confirmed, it will be a huge victory for a White House under serious seige over the CIA leak and the failure of the Iraq War. Given the political capital or rather policital debt Bush has, I think it is even odds at this point. Specter, Collins, Snowe, Chafee, and McCain are five names who pretty much control the way this one will go.