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Monday, January 09, 2006

Alito Hearings at High Noon

The confirmation hearings will open today for Samuel Alito in the Senate Judiciary Committee, beginning at 12:00 pm ET. They will begin with opening statements from the Senators on the committee of ten minutes in length each. After the opening statements, Senators will begin questioning Alito and other witnesses.

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is hoping to wrap up the hearings this week, with a vote scheduled for January 17th. Yeah, I bet he's hoping things go smoothly. The last thing Specter wants to be remembered for is the "Borking" of another nominee on his watch. (Or the "Harriet-ing," although I'm not certain anyone has mentioned the need for Alito to go through remedial Con Law at this point.)

Sen. Pat Leahy isn't making any promises on that, depending on how willing Alito is to actually answer the questions asked of him.

The NYTimes has a decent review of some of the issues, opinions and past memoranda Alito has authored, and that are likely to raise some questions from the committee members: abortion, privacy, Executive powers, and Congressional authority appear to be looming large.

For a glimpse of the evangelical support base for Alito's nomination, take a peek at this article. Kind of brings the whole "anointing the hearing chairs" into more perspective, doesn't it?

The NYTimes also has some background on the years that both Alito and Roberts spent in clerkships and the AG's office. As does the WaPo, with the second of its two-parter on the Alito formative years in the Reagan DoJ.

As for the whole "Democrats are politicizing the hearings," I'm calling bullshit. Texas Senator John Cornyn (who I will be forced to listen to because he's on the damned Judiciary Committee) leaked his opening statement to the press already. (Can you say publicity hound? I thought you could. Maybe he gave it to Timmeh yesterday.)
"I am reluctantly inclined to the view that you and any other nominee of this president for the Supreme Court start with no more than 13 votes in this committee, and only 78 votes in the full Senate with a solid, immovable and unpersuadable block of at least 22 votes against you, no matter what you say or do," the statement said.
Apparently, it's only principled opposition when the far right decides to take down the nomination of...say...the Preznit's WH Counsel because she wasn't nearly wingy enough and they couldn't be certain exactly how she would vote on Roe. But when Dems want answers to questions, it's political posturing? Malarky. Don't you love the sound of hypocrisy at high noon? has a link to Sen. Kennedy's questions on Alito's credibility problem. I think this is a good line of questioning for Democrats to get into -- and one that is well worth pursuing, given Alito's tendency to explain away his positions as "I'll say anything to get a job." Either you believe what you say, or you are willing to lie to get a job -- either way, some explanation is in order.

The WSJ reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham participated in a "mock moot court" Senate hearing prep session with Alito over the weekend. Interesting -- guess we already know Graham's vote and he can stop pretending to be open-minded about listening to all of the evidence before he makes up his mind, eh?

The WSJ also brings up Alito's involvement in a group at Princeton that worked for exclusion of minorities and women from the campus -- that should prove some interesting questioning from Sen. Feinstein, at the very least, and reveals that the WH is worried about this and the credibility issues. (Slate had more on the "Alito treats women like girls" question back in November (via Atrios), and I'm certain Di will be wondering about this and much more if her performance on yesterday's talking head shows is any indication.)

All in all, the news is promising for some in-depth questioning at the hearings. Don't know about you, but I'm planning to pull up a seat to watch the shoot out starting at high noon today. Here's hoping it's more than the intellectual ass-kissing that Roberts got.

A lifetime seat on the nation's highest court should not be handed out for a pittance, because the cost of doing so is too high to the American public at this point in our history. Judge Alito has a lot to answer for, not the least of which is his long history of deference to executive power -- with King George already operating with a rubber stamp Republican Congress in hand, we can't afford to hand him the Supreme Court as well without a fight.