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Monday, January 09, 2006

Alito Hearings: Sen. Statements, Part II

SHORTER KOHL: Individual liberties and equal opportunity are important to me – the little guy deserves consideration, too. Rights of individuals must be upheld. As a Justice, must stay above the political fray – how will you wield that power if you are given a seat at the table – will you be independent or results oriented? Details a number of concerns based on prior opinions from Alito: Casey dissent, worker’s rights, past history at DoJ (no Const. Protection for right to abortion) – and philosophically opposed to Warren court history. Kohl details why Warren decisions of protecting minorities against majority tyranny are important, and why it is troubling that opposition to them as a foundation for pursuit of legal career is Alito’s stated reason. Test will be of judicial excellence: competence and temperament; sense of core American values – *ahem* no extremes; understanding that the *ahem* decisions affect *ahem* real people – justice may *ahem* be blind, but not deaf; what is in mind and heart. (Little bit of a frog in Kohl’s throat for a while.)

SHORTER DEWINE: Constitution important as the people’s document. Troubled by recent cases, and wondering how Alito’s insertion in place of O’Connor would change some of these issues. Multiple concurrences and dissents make things difficult for interpretations for lawyers and lay people. Blah blah blah. Now bringing up conservative talking point that courts have been inserting themselves into making laws – role of judge should simply be to decide cases. (RH: You know, it’s funny how the only time people say judges are legislating from the bench is when they disagree with the outcome. Conservatives don’t complain about Thomas’ dissents which are often results oriented. I’ll be interested to see if DeWine or any other Rep. Sen. asks Alito where in the four corners of the Constitution he finds the Presidential right to issue signing statements on legislation.)

SHORTER FEINSTEIN: Be straightforward, don’t dodge questions. Concerns: Deep concerns on Court adopting narrow view of Commerce Clause and 14 Amendment, encroaching on Congressional authority. Addresses machine gun case, wherein Alito had narrow reading on Congr. Authority. Executive powers are enormous concern – and Alito’s history of opinions give her great pause – based on Administration’s expansive reading of the law, disregarding due process, spying on Americans without warrant, etc. Also concerned on impact Alito could have on women’s rights, particularly right to choose and Roe – your opinions raise concerns about how you would rule when not bound by precedent. Also concerned about civil rights – based on statements made in 1985 job application regarding Warren court decisions and other items in Alito’s history.

SHORTER SESSIONS: I have an irritating, nasal voice. And I like you, Judge Alito, because you are one of us. *wink* Judge Alito, you have a large brain. Having a federal prosecutor on the bench could be of great value, due to prior cases that may have been incorrectly decided because past judges had little to no criminal experience. (RH: Okay, I’ll agree here that could be useful. But it depends on how broad-minded you are. I’m sure Jeralyn would have some comments on this as well.) People like you, they really like you. We don’t want an activist judge – unless, of course, he’s a conservative one, in which case, good on ya. (RH: Again, someone needs to ask about the signing statements and where that is allowable in the Constitution – and how that squares with a strict constructionist philosophy.) Blah blah blah. Now I’m going to use my bully pulpit to cover your flank and cite only cases which I think make you look good. (Cathcart, Brenson, and others – not sure on spelling on these, so YMMV)

SHORTER FEINGOLD: Thanks for being here. Allow me to proceed to needle you. We need judges who see themselves as custodians of the laws that this nation holds, even when a Preznit is telling the nation that the Preznit alone should be able to decide how far the executive should go. Concerned that Alito is to deferential to the Executive. Must be fair and objective – need judges who can ensure that Judicial branch is an independent check on the power of other branches, as the Constitution requires. Raises character questions on Vanguard mutual company – still has investments, and did not keep his word on recusing himself on Vanguard cases (shifting explanation and justifications – wants full and final story – oooh, good one). Must have highest ethical standards, stakes for this nomination could hardly be higher. Outcome of this could shape our society for generations to come. Senate has the right to know what a nominee feels about past court decisions. Executive power, death penalty, employment discrimination, etc., to be questioned. Expect complete answers – we have right to know if past legal opinions still stand as Alito’s opinions today.

15 minute recess now until 2:15 pm ET.

SHORTER GRAHAM: Allow me to kiss your ass and talk about how well-qualified you are (since I’ve been doing your debate prep, and all). Questions about Executive power and time of war. Graham’s main concern is for the committee’s reputation as to how the hearings go. Now, allow me to cover your flank on issues that I know you will not really answer questions on (since, again, I helped you do debate prep this past weekend). Now threatening about abortion (RH: base needs some shoring up after I joined the gang of 14, and this gives me an awfully good platform to do so.) – if we go down that road, there will be no going back (referencing filibuster on abortion issue alone). The Preznit gets to appoint whomever he wants because the people elected him knowing that he would do so. Then says he wouldn’t vote for anyone who ever represented the ACLU. (RH: Lovely. So defending the Constitution is offensive to him?) And gosh darn it, people like you. Hopes everyone in Senate will treat Alito fairly.

SHORTER SCHUMER: Laying out why extreme right wing got a veto over Miers, but rolled out red carpet for Alito – and that Dems. Have an obligation to find out why. (“miers” precedent) While O’Connor has been the fulcrum of the Court, you appear to add weight only to one side. Are you in O’Connor’s mold or, as Preznit says, in the mold of Scalia and Thomas? You are most prolific dissenter in 3 Circuit. You give impression of being fair minded, while always deciding in a way that has a rightward tilt. “We need to know that Presidents and paupers will receive equal justice in your courtroom.” Back to the umpire analogy again. The President is not a King, the court is not free to substitute its judgments for those of legislatures, and the people are not subjects without rights. Where does your philosophy on this place you? Brings up wiretapping – “will you check the President’s power – or will you be a blank check?” Then on to past statements regarding Roe and whether Alito still believes very strongly that the Constitution does not protect women’s rights. Will you be bound by precedent – or overrule it as you stated in 1985. You ought to answer questions – you have an obligation to answer questions on topics about which you have written. And you’ve written about a lot of stuff.

SHORTER CORNYN: I’m going to start by blathering about fairness (because I’m such a big proponent of fairness *cough*). Cornyn now going on and on about people voting against justice nominees because of politics. (RH: I’m calling bullshit on this. It’s one thing to say someone votes a party line, it’s another thing to accuse Senators of this on a Supreme Court Justice nomination – which is a lifetime appointment – when enormous principles are at stake. And I hope Cornyn will be called on this, not only because he’s a hypocritcal ass, but also because he’s questioning the integrity of fellow Senators and ought to be called on the carpet for it.) I don’t like liberuls, and I’ve been assured you don’t either – you are one of us, Alito. *wink* But I’m not saying you are results oriented or anything. Nope. Oh, and the most important thing on my mind today is that people of faith are taken care of...well, people of my faith. Now, let me talk about the one case I argued before the Supreme Court as the TX AG – and it was about prayer at a football game, so it gives me an opportunity to kiss James Dobson’s ass for a moment by going on and on about how evangelical beliefs should be supremely important to you and everyone else in America.

SHORTER DURBIN: Test for Supreme Court nominee – will you use position to restrict freedom or expand it? The Court is the last refuge for freedom and liberty. Court opened schools from segregation – not Congress. Discussing Griswald – and privacy issues, reproductive rights and privacy, in the context of recent Shiavo positions taken by Republicans on the Hill and invading family rights at a private time. Abortion is difficult for most people – balance personal religious and philosophical beliefs and rights of women at a very, very difficult time. Should be woman’s decision. Question of American citizen’s rights being protected during time of war – checks and balances important. Will you stand with the Founding Fathers? Legislative construction questions. (RH: YES! It’s the signing statement and unitary executive theory issue.) What will you do with WH overreach on Constitutional and treaty obligations – torture, enemy combatants, rights issues, etc.? Will you be influenced by Federalist Society or O’Connor? Will you have the courage to stand up for civil rights – where does your Warren Court opposition and Princeton involvement fit in – Senate deserves an answer on this. Brings up mining case dissent.

Hearings Part I

(picture courtesy