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Monday, January 09, 2006

Alito Hearings: Senator Opening Statements

I'm going to be live-blogging the Alito hearings as much as possible today (at least so far as the toddler can stand Senators listening to themselves speak, anyway). I'll update this post as things go along.

Introduction of Alito's family. Mom is there, so be nice.

SHORTER SPECTER: Concerned about Presidential power grabs and historical context of Constitutional system. Also, Congressional power issues -- Supreme Court insulting by suggesting that their reasoning power is superior to Congress. Brings up Separation of Powers. Methinks that Specter is displeased with the Preznit.

SHORTER LEAHY: Alito must demonstrate that he respects the rights and liberties of ALL Americans. Supreme Court nominations should not be done through a series of winks and nods toward factions who have narrow interests (read: religious right anti-abortion Dobsonites). Supreme Court belongs to all Americans, not just to WH or to narrow faction of a single political party. Public conversation in this hearing extremely important -- theme is that this is the people's rights and the people's Constitution. "The Court that serves America should reflect America." Reminds Alito of O'Connor's opinion holding that even in times of war, the President is not above the law, that no citizen is, and goes over the rest of O'Connor's legacy to show how important a single Supreme Court justice is. "Will you be an independent jurist?" Question as to whether appointment is a results-oriented one for the far right -- and whether or not Alito is agreeable to that or whether he is prepared to be independent as a jurist based on facts and law before him.

SHORTER HATCH: Begins by kissing Specter's ass -- they must be a little worried about his vote. Goes on about Senate advise and consent powers versus Presidential power to appoint. (Funny how deferential Hatch can be when a Republican Preznit is nominating...don't remember him being this nice to all of Clinton's nominees.) Also, don’t expect Alito to answer any questions because as I remember it, Ruth Bader Ginsberg didn’t either. And his opinions for the DoJ aren’t Alito’s fault, so don’t blame him – consider them in their rightful context. (RH: Okay, I partly agree with this – certainly they should be considered in context. But Alito has to answer the questions about them in order for Senators to properly consider context and meaning – he doesn’t get a pass both ways.) Have lots of record – should only apply judicial standard to evaluation of them, not political. And then he goes into a lengthy comparison to umpires and application of rules and judges and applications of laws. Oh, and Alito is a baseball fan. Oh goody.

SHORTER KENNEDY: “Even one justice can profoundly affect the rights and liberties of the people.” Does your record hold true to the spirit and the letter of the law? Can you truly be fair and even-handed? Asked previously whether Alito could be open-minded and impartial in the arguments before him if placed on the 3rd Circuit. Now have record of 15 years on the bench – and record troubles Kennedy deeply. In an era when the WH is abusing power, finds Alito’s support for an “all-powerful Executive branch” deeply troubling. (Kennedy then goes on the smack the WH for the NSA/FISA mess.) Alito has clear record of support for vast Presidential authority, unchecked by other branches of government. Has supported Presidential power that is disturbing, frightening, and intrudes on privacy and rights and liberties of Americans. Most expansive view of Presidential authority – maybe that’s why Preznit nominated him. “Must be a check on liberties, not a cheerleader for an Imperial Presidency.” (Mwahaha) Acted in favor of government, large corporations and wealthy interests – average Americans have had difficulty getting a fair shake in his courtroom. Not one single opinion in favor of a person of color in race relations cases – not one in 15 years. When you put that in the context of Princeton alumni group to which Alito belonged, his history at DoJ, it is troubling. Especially when you look at the application that Alito made for the DoJ job. Also troubled by Alito’s responses to committee questions and others. Brings up Vanguard conflicting statements and credibility issues and character questions. The Preznit and interests groups on the far right demanded answers from Harriet Miers before her nomination was withdrawn – the Senate deserves no less than answers from Alito.

SHORTER GRASSLEY: More positive view of Alito than Kennedy. Justices should be fair and not impose their own values on cases, but rule based on law and facts. Alito has good record, academically and professionally. Yay, team. And gosh darn it, people like him. Umpire analogy again. Now reading off a list of “blurbs” from people who like Alito. ( critiques...funny, that.) Now attacking “outside the mainstream groups” who attack Alito, but then says glad to see everyone participate in the process. Supreme Court nominee should not impose what they personally think the law ought to be, but should be constrained to what the law is. Must respect equal roles of different branches of government. References Federalist 78 – thinks Alito has commitment to judicial restraint. Constitution sets the standard. Blah blah blah up or down vote.

SHORTER BIDEN: Blah blah blah. You are in the middle of a significant national debate on substantial philosophical issues, and your vote is critical on the Court – and we aren’t just going to hand you this seat for life without you answering some questions. Blah blah blah. I know Justice O’Connor. Judge Alito, I fear you are no Sandra Day. Blah blah blah. Want this to be a conversation, not a minuet – we owe that the American people. (RH: note to Joe, most Americans don’t know what the hell an minuet is. I’m just saying.) Blah blah blah.

SHORTER KYL: I’m an experienced scowler, and Judge Alito is an experienced legal person. (Now, allow me a moment to kiss O’Connor’s ass because my constituents in AZ don’t really like me and I’m trying to surf some political points in her wake.) (RH: Uh oh – Kyl bringing up the immigrant thing (wasn’t there a news report that this was overblown in Alito’s background? Didn’t Kyl get the memo?) No sitting justice has served as a federal prosecutor – that should be useful. (Translation: you’ll give the Preznit a green light to spy on Americans without a warrant, wink wink, nudge nudge – Kyl, so unsubtle) Gee, Judge Alito, you sure are smart. And modest. We’d have to find out you murdered someone before I’d vote against you. Now I’m going to take a few minutes to tell Democratic Senators how they ought to do their jobs. Blah blah blah. My advice is don’t directly answer any questions. Blah blah blah.