Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Alito Confirmation Hearings

It is ridiculous to engage Mr. Alito (and it was equally ridiculous to engage Chief Justice Roberts) in a game of "gotcha". Senate hearings are not court proceedings. They are not governed by the rules of evidence. There is no "beyond a reasonable doubt" "clear and convincing evidence""preponderance of the evidence" or even an "if it doesn't fit ..." standard. Senators are allowed to draw conclusion, make statements, and cast votes on wild assumptions and narrow prejudices.

If Judge Alito is vague on his answers regarding "unitary executive power" (whatever that means) or abortion, then the Senator is allowed to assume that Judge Alito's reasoning is in accordance with the President's. After all, why else would the President nominate him? As a matter of fact, given the right-wing's track record of appointing justices who approve of Roe v Wade, it is really the Republicans who ought to be asking Alito the hard questions.

I think my main man (my former Congressman and now my Senator) Charles Schumer is doing a really bad job trying to meet a standard, that he invented, as to whether Alito is "outside the judicial mainstream." Alito worked in the Reagan White House, and has been a Federal Judge in Pennsylvania for 15 years. It doesn't get more mainstream than Judge Alito.

Schumer's job, as a Democrat, is not to prove that Alito is "out of the maintstream".

Schumer's job is to show the country that a "mainstream" Republican judge, any mainstream Republican judge, has an agenda that will lead the country in a horrible direction.
--- No abortion (any nonsense comments regarding "abortion will go back to the states" will be deleted) and no death with dignity will effectively limit opportunities for one half of the population

--- The overturning of the New Deal effectively limiting opportunities for the other half.

--- The Imperial Presidency, gratefully providing employment opportunities in the military for those of us who cannot find jobs

--- The Patriot Act, providing those of us who are hungry with meals (in jail), when we slowly learn that being a Democrat is considered by this President to be the same as being an enemy combattant. (In case any of us escape from the next 2 years alive, I'm looking forward to seeing Rush and the amazing Mr. O'R Factor supporting the Patriot Act on Hilary's behalf.)

I think Joe Biden had the right impulse, although he did a bad job executing it. There is no need to ask Alito any questions. Alito has been at it for about 25 years, as a lawyer and a judge. He's as interesting as a 2 by 4 with a clear varnish. If you don't know the answer to any question you might want to ask Alito, then you haven't done your reading.

A Senator can spend his 30 minutes of time, as Biden did, doing the "advise" part of "advise and consent." Just remember that the only thing less interesting than Sam Alito's life story is Joe Biden's life story.

Next time, the Democrats can make it easier on themselves by voting against having the nominee show up to the hearing at all. Then, with the unusual opportunity of being able to talk to the country when it's actually paying attention, Democrats can have an organized round of presentations -- each Senator focussing on a different issue --- and make the country aware of the Kingdom of Bush that the Roberts/ Alito court will be enabling.

Then, after the Democrats have presented their case, and the Republicans have voted Alito in anyway, the Democrats can go into Congressional election mode (yeah -- these are important issues -- a 9-month election period is not too long) and see what the country thinks of the Democratic viewpoint.