Alito Hearings, Wednesday Edition Posted by: Dale Franks
on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Some observations from today's Alito hearings.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is concerned. He's very, very concerned. He has a whole list of cases where Judge Alito has ruled for powerful institutions over individuals...some of whom are...black. Why, he wonders doesn't Judge Alito rule in favor of Sen. Durbin's preferred groups instead of businesses or the government.
Well, I'm concerned, too, because the implication of Sen. Durbin's question is that Judges have a duty to rule in favor of politically preferred groups. If so, then that's not justice. That is a subversion of justice. It is an implicit denial of equality before the law. No one who appears before the bar should be given more or less deference, based on their membership in a politically preferred group.
The job of a Judge, especially an appellate judge, is to apply the law, not to pick and choose winners based on their political favorability. Again, as I have related before, I think of the story of Judge Learned Hand and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. After having lunch together, Justice Holmes entered his carriage to return to the Supreme Court. Overcome by a sudden bout of enthusiasm, Judge Hand ran towards Holmes' carriage and shouted, "Do justice, Sir! Do justice!" Judge Holmes replied, "That is not my job, sir. My job is to apply the law."
Very testy little exchange between Sens. Specter and Kennedy. Almost shouting at each other.
Sen. Kennedy is demanding a subpoena of the private papers of William Rusher, who was a bigwig in Concerned Alumni for Princeton (CAP). Those papers reside in the Library of Congress, and Kennedy is demanding an immediate subpoena "in fairness to the nominee", of course. My paraphrase of the resulting conversation goes like this:
Specter: Why didn't you bring this up before? This is the first I'm hearing of it. Kennedy: Wrong! You got a letter from me weeks ago explaining this, you lying bastard! Specter: Hey, don't tell me what I received, ass. You don't have a freakin' clue what I received. Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe your mailing skills are on a par with your driving-across-short-bridges skills. Kennedy: Well, you know it now, so are you gonna issue a subpoena, or what? Specter: Yeah, Teddy. I'll think about it. Kennedy: You'll do more than think about it you pompous windbag, or we'll force a vote on it every five minutes. Specter: Don't threaten me with votes, Whiskey-Boy! I run this committee, not you. Now, STFU.
So, that was fun to watch. Very high-browed and senatorial. William Rusher, by the way, is a former publisher of National Review, and the guys in The Corner are quoting a New York Times piece from a reporter who's apparently seen the papers, and writes that they back up Alito's testimony on CAP.
So, I'm interested to see how that plays out.
Every Democrat is pounding on CAP now.
Joe Biden: C'mon, didn't you put your CAP membership down on your Justice Department job application so you could appeal to the misogynists and racists in the Reagan Administration?
Sen. Specter is still miffed. Mr. Rusher appears to have given the committee's staff access to his papers in the LOC, and they are combing through them. Sen. Specter still says that Kennedy should've talked to him about it rather than springing it on him the way he did.
In any event, Rusher and others in CAP say Alito never played a noticeable role in the organization.
Kennedy says he's sorry it's necessary to look at the papers, because the nominee won't give him any honest answers.
So, there you go with the day's highlights.
UPDATE [Jon Henke]
To save time, let me offer an even briefer encapsulation of today's hearings:
Senator's Kennedy/Durbin/Biden/Leahy/etc: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton?
Samuel Alito: "I have racked my memory and I really have no specific recollection of that organization."
Senator Kennedy I would have here in my hand a list of one person who is known to this Committee as being a member of the Concerened Alumni of Princeton and who nevertheless is still nominated to the Supreme Court. Or I would have it if Chairman Specter would return my messages.
Senator Specter: Pound sand, McKennedy.
That's really all you need to know. [Todd Zywicki has more]
I never know if the Republicans are lucky or smart. I must say, though, that with both Roberts and Alito, the GOP’s "give them enough rope" strategy has worked spectacularly well.
The Democratic Party would have been better off if these gasbags had kept their mouth shut and just let this thing go through. Instead they have managed to look surly, mendicious, and idiotic, all at the same time. Quite a feat.