Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito confirmation hearings

I blogged briefly about the John Roberts hearings here and got some great comments. redhurt wondered about the relevance of the procedure given how strong of a candidate Roberts was; standingout pointed out that since it's a given that presidents pick judges, you have to understand that when you're voting; inviolable asked about what qualifies senators to review justices; and jackscolon went to church with Bill Clinton.

Is anyone paying attention to the Alito confirmation hearings? I haven't watched them but I read some of the transcripts on the Washington Post. (Do a search for "Roe" in that document and see what you come up with.) I thought it was annoying how much Kennedy and others were focusing on the CAP stuff (which I won't explain here but you can easily google) until I read this on Slate. It helped me put things into focus:

"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."

Basically Lithwick is saying that (1) Alito refuses to be forthright about his views and (2) the Democrats refuse to be forthright in asking him about him. Obviously she thinks that this is unfair to the American people, but if I'm Alito and the Dems are being spineless pansies (which they have been since 1999), I'm going to avoid saying anything controversial and glide into confirmation. If there is anything controversial or bad about him, it's the Dems' job to tactfully find our or bring it up; if not, shut up and confirm him.


At 3:53 PM, Anonymous minor prophet said...

Charles, I think the Dems on the judiciary committee have asked a whole bunch of forthright questions, which Alito has dodged. I would say it's cleverness they need more of, not tact or spine. Alito has to be painted into a corner where he contradicts himself. (That was a weirdly mixed metaphor.) He's not a stupid man; it's not that easy. If anything, the Democrats have been TOO forthright. Admittedly, they've bloviated quite a bit, as have the Republicans.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I'll admit they need more cleverness, but I'll still maintain they need tact and spine.

He should be bagged with a forthright question and an obvious issue he can't give a good answer to or answers poorly to - not "painted into a corner" through more clever dancing. If he's wrong, it should be obvious, and if it's not, it's probably partisan. And if it's partisan, all I can say is, the republicans approved Darth Vader Ginsberg with much less hoopla than all of this nonsense.

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous minor prophet said...

redhurt, I agree with you in theory. I'm not even sure why Alito bothers me quite so much, it's just... I have a bad feeling about this.

Speaking of forthright questions, though, today (Thursday), Sen. Feingold asked Alito if a person convicted of a capital crime, but shown by later events or evidence not to be guilty, had a constitutional right not to be executed. Feingold pressed Alito for a yes or no answer and Alito refused to give one. He said, and then reiterated, that the person should appeal his conviction through the appropriate channels. He would NOT say there was a constitutional right not to be executed if you had been found guilty of a capital crime but were, in fact, innocent.

I see where he's coming from. I'm sure those exact words aren't in the constitution. But still... not such a good feeling.


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