Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Playing politics

Despite their agreement to a timetable last November, the Democrats want to delay a committee vote on Samuel Alito. Since the outcome--at the committee level and even in the Senate as a whole--is a foregone conclusion, this seems to be the pettiest sort of politics. The groups that couldn’t lay a glove on Judge Alito all week still want their pound of flesh.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Two quick reactions:

One, the Democrats take delight in getting their way. Even if they don’t get their way on the final result, they can get their way for a week. This is the attitude of people who truly love the political game. Until our side does, we will be second to them in power.

Two, the more they fight and delay, the more chance they have to get their message out to the public.

Democrats merely wish to rain on Bush’s State of the Union parade of new SCOTUS justices. Of course Bush’s "no gloat zone" rule will apply and the Democrats will get their delay...

and only history books will ever know what a new birth of conservatism wrought circa 2006!


We can hope. But Alito, if really a strong conservative, is at most the fourth vote, not the fifth. Anthony Kennedy has an ample history of going along with liberal interpretations.
We will not have a truly restrained court, let alone an originalist court, until either Kennedy or one of the hard-left justices is replaced with a strong conservative. There is no particular reason to think that will happen this year, and if it doesn’t happen this year, it may never happen. Hillary is the favorite in ’08, and we are on track to lose two to four Senate seats this year.

In addition, am I the only one who is uncertain about the depth of Alito’s conservatism?

Can we really dismiss the fact that he is so well-liked by liberal justices or former justices from the Third Circuit? That he has hired many liberal clerks? That he often attends, and that his wife teaches Sunday School at, what has been described as a standard liberal Catholic church? That his reaction to being smeared as a bigot by lowlifes like Kennedy was hurt rather than cold disdain? And that he is widely said to immerse himself in the details of a case, more interested in these than in the big picture?

Don’t get me wrong. We may not have been able to do better, realistically. Alito is brilliantly qualified and a good guy. He won’t make up new law or act like a legislator. But will he do much for the legal revolution that is sorely needed after 50 years of poorly based liberal precedents? Will he chop away at these precedents?

Given his dedication to precedent and very mild manner, the contest seems rather uneven. We’ll need some real bears, and Alito just seems too nice and too cautious, as did Roberts in his hearings.


There is also a chance this childish delay will be seen as "sore losing" and hurt the Democrats a little. Let us hope Bush gets another pull for a third seat on TSCOTUS, and that it comes with enough time. If such an opening doesn’t come for two years or so, but does come in early 2008, I expect to see the nuclear option, the filibuster--the works, and with no delays. (I’ll bet Stevens is not the next to go, either; he look more healthy than Breyer, Ginsburg or Souter).

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