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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alito Confirmation Process Begins Monday

The Alito confirmation hearings begin tomorrow, around high noon (fitting somehow...), and they are shaping up to be a clash of ideologies if the escalating rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is any indication today.

And if Dianne Feinstein's interview on Fox News Sunday is any indication, Democrats have been doing some serious planning for these hearings, which makes me very pleased considering the bloviating fiasco that was the Roberts hearings -- which might be better described as blab and bluster. Feinstein talked about multiple issues, but all of them were solid, case-based things that strike to the heart of both conservative and liberal concerns:
FEINSTEIN: Well, there is a controversy with respect to that. And I think that will come out in the committee questioning. One case which is very sensitive for many of us, a case called Rybar, where he dealt -- he said that -- struck down a law having to do with the possession and transfer of fully automatic machine guns, when the Miller case in the 1930s had clearly said that it was legal for the Congress to regulate these weapons under the Second Amendment.

And he took this other restrictive use of the commerce clause to say that the Congress could not legislate.

HUME: Clearly...

FEINSTEIN: That causes major concern.
That's just one example, but if Democrats can continue to frame Alito outside the mainstream of jurisprudence on all sides, as advocating positions that threaten the balance of powers and go toward more of an imperial presidency than we already have -- I'm hoping these will gain more traction in the wake of the NSA/FISA mess that the Preznit has created for himself and which all of Alito's past opinions would appear to support.

The WaPo's Supreme Court column has been doing a great job of tracking the latest news, and is certainly worth a read through today in preparation for watching the hearings tomorrow. Additionally, the WaPo has a background article today on the foundations of Alito's conservative jurisprudence -- and worth a read, if only for the information that Alito is a Justice Harlan, Barry Goldwater, and William F. Buckley, Jr., kind of guy -- when he was in Princeton in the 70s.

And in an odd move, it looks as though sitting appellate court judges will be testifying on Alito's behalf, now that Sen. Specter has given them the green light to do so. I am not aware of any circumstance where that has happened in the past. Can you say conflict of interest? I know I can. If Alito is confirmed, he'll be sitting in judgment of opinions coming from these courts -- and won't he feel the tiniest debt of gratitude toward these judges for going to bat for him? Personally, that's over the line and unseemly, but maybe my sense of ethics is

The NYTimes has a piece this morning on the hearings being a test for both Alito and the Democrats. And they are right. If Democrats can't mount an effective pushback on this nominee and his positions, then...well, I don't know what, but this is too important for falling down on the job. After reading through the Feinstein transcript from this morning, I'm a lot more hopeful that I have been in days on this.

UPDATE: Via Crooks and Liars, it seems the WSJ and Jesus General have some information on some evangelical ministers sneaking into the hearing room to "anoint" the chairs for the hearings on Alito. Anyone ever hear of something like this being done in the past? This is a new one on me. And who let them in? After 9/11, the Senate hearing rooms aren't exactly easy to just walk into these days -- who wanted these ministers to come in an anoint chairs? Are they THAT worried about the Alito hearings? What's the scoop?