Monday, January 09, 2006

Samuel Alito Hearings Likely To Prove He Is Outside The Mainstream

Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have devoted considerable space to the onset of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the nomination of Samuel A. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. With enough on the record already to indicate that the hearings will show Alito to be well to the right of the judicial mainstream, the immediate question is whether Senate Democrats will launch a filibuster against the nomination.

A filibuster is appropriate if Alito sticks with past assertions that the President has almost unlimited powers to ignore Congress and proceed to spy on Americans without seeking court warrants.

This is a new and pernicious doctrine. For the first time since 9-11, my own feeling is that the Bush position for warrantless wiretapping does indeed represent a threat to American liberties.

There is nothing in the American experience to indicate that panels of judges would not allow wiretapping in the event of an imminent terrorist threat in any case.

Since the Alito nomination, much has appeared in public records to indicate that Alito is outside the mainstream not only on abortion, one-man-one-vote and other issues, but on the key issue of excessive Presidential power, overwhelming both Congress and the courts.

There is considerable evidence that many in Congress, including some Republicans, are opposed to any such power grab by President Bush, or any other President.

Accordingly, if Alito sticks with his positions, or refuses to explicitly answer questions, there must now be a real fight over this nomination. Politics as usual cannot be allowed to prevail.

The Democrats in Congress have hardly been very strong. Often, they have avoided fights, either because they think they might lose, or fear that there is a majority to do away with the filibuster.

But if they fight on Alito, I doubt they will find this to be the case. The recent 52-47 vote by which the Senate refused to break a filibuster on extension of the Patriot Act shows the present lay of the land in Congress. And Alito, if anything, goes beyond Scalia and Thomas into the very fringeland of American rightwing politics.

This is my third blog on the subject of Alito. I've opposed him before. If his record has been accurately presented up to now, I feel strongly he is not suitable for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Incidentally, commendation is particularly due the New York Times' piece by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sunday, headlined, "In Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Test for Democrats as Well as Alito." Stolberg started in the suburban sections of the L.A. Times. She has come a long way and is one of the most distinguished Washington reporters.

President Bush today cast the Alito nomination peculiarly as a matter of "dignity."
It is not "dignity," it is cowardice for Congress to fail to stand up to the President on a matter of high principle, such as this.


Anonymous Frank Cruz said...

According to the latest Washington Post–ABC News poll, 53 percent of Americans say Alito should be confirmed by the Senate. Only 27 percent say he should be rejected.

Although you may not care for the nominee, according to the poll he is not outside the mainstream.

If being outside the mainstream were all that important, then Clinton's picks wouldn't have been confirmed. Mainstream? Please. And yet the Republicans didn't play the type of politics with them that you propose for Alito.

Would I agree with all he says? No. But after listening to Kennedy, Schumer and the others who oppose him, folks who are definitely OUTSIDE the mainstream, I say confirm and get on with it.

1/09/2006 6:40 PM  

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