Thursday, January 12

What bothers me about Alito and the jerkbags questioning him

(From Slate)

In a single piece, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate gets so much about the Alito hearings exactly right:

And as the two senators trade threats, expressions of feigned outrage, and promises of dire consequences, the real problem with this whole confirmation process becomes clear: It's a battle of the world's largest egos. There is only one product they're trying to move in this four-day infomercial and that product is senators. Senators! Get your red-hot senators! This proceeding is nothing more than Senate QVC. People of Pennsylvania: Order an Arlen Specter and you'll have softer, smoother skin. Order a Ted Kennedy and equal justice under the law can be yours in minutes! Hurry and order a Tom Coburn in the next 15 minutes, and we'll throw in a free stethoscope, Bible, and glow-in-the-dark ear thermometer.

This is no more a judicial confirmation hearing than O.J. Simpson's was a criminal trial.


But as trivial as the screaming over CAP may seem, it matters. Not because it proves the nominee hates women or minorities or criminal defendants or immigrants. That's a caricature of a conservative judge. It matters because CAP was code in 1985 for all the things Alito refused to write on his application and refuses to discuss before the committee now. Instead of being forthright about his convictions, Alito hides behind the fiction that there is only one way to decide cases. Instead of proudly bearing witness—as he has done throughout his career—to his opposition to the Warren Court's rulings, his disdain for the reasoning in Roe, his preference for states' rights, strong police powers, and "traditional values"—he pretends that all those amassed thoughts and ideas are irrelevant. He pretends—as do his supporters in the GOP—that every one of those thoughts has absolutely no bearing on how he decides cases. And that is just not true.


Senate Democrats are pummeling Alito with the racist Princeton group because it symbolizes a parody of his beliefs. They know it's a parody. They want to know why it's a parody he so proudly claimed as his own in 1985. If he was just closing the deal with the Reagan administration, he should tell us. If it's code for what he's still selling today, we have a right to know.

So when all the posturing and bloviating and precarious, graceless dancing is done and Alito is confirmed to the court, what will American justice be like for the next 10, 20, 30 years? How will the courts' interpretations of the law change?

I think we're looking down the barrel of a loaded gun here, and we just don't know how dangerous the situation is because the person holding the gun seems so darn amiable and nice and knowledgeable about gun safety.


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