"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Judging Alito

Washington Post Editorial - Confirm Samuel Alito:

Judge Alito should be confirmed, both because of his positive qualities as an appellate judge and because of the dangerous precedent his rejection would set.

Judge Alito is superbly qualified. His record on the bench is that of a thoughtful conservative, not a raging ideologue. He pays careful attention to the record and doesn't reach for the political outcomes he desires. His colleagues of all stripes speak highly of him. His integrity, notwithstanding efforts to smear him, remains unimpeached.

It's fair to guess that Judge Alito will favor a judiciary that exercises restraint and does not substitute its judgment for that of the political branches in areas of their competence. That's not all bad. The Supreme Court sports a great range of ideological diversity but less disagreement about the scope of proper judicial power. The institutional self-discipline and modesty that both Judge Alito and Chief Justice Roberts profess could do the court good if taken seriously and applied apolitically.

Supreme Court confirmations have never been free of politics, but neither has their history generally been one of party-line votes or of ideology as the determinative factor. To go down that road is to believe that there exists a Democratic law and a Republican law -- which is repugnant to the ideal of the rule of law. However one reasonably defines the "mainstream" of contemporary jurisprudence, Judge Alito's work lies within it.
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees, but she doesn’t plan to vote for Alito’s confirmation:

"This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court."
Voting against confirming Judge Alito is not good enough, Senator Feinstein. You’re supposed to be hysterical at the prospect of a Supreme Court Justice Alito, no matter how qualified he is for the position.

"Dianne Feinstein's comment is very disturbing," said Kate Michelman, the former president of Naral Pro-Choice America and a witness against Mr. Alito at the confirmation hearings.
Ah yes, the pro-choice groups, opposing every Republican nomination supposedly because the balance of the court would be changed and abortion rights would end. How many times can these groups cry wolf?

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and a supporter of abortion rights, called abortion the "dominant issue" of the hearings:

Mr. Specter said he would vote for confirmation and …he said it was impossible to know how Judge Alito might vote as a Supreme Court justice. He said abortion rights groups had also opposed Justice David Souter, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - all Republican nominees who have voted from the bench to uphold the core abortion rights precedents.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Jack said...

Yeah, but if you are pro-choice and you are worried about Roe being overturned, it doesn't matter what has happened in the past. Plus, Bush Sr. and even Reagan did not take the abortion issue as seriously as W.

- Jersey Perspective

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...


"Bush Sr. and even Reagan did not take the abortion issue as seriously as W." How did you reach this conclusion?

We seem to remember Reagan not being shy about saying he'd like to see Roe overturned - read this for starters. Here’s George H.W. Bush on the record as being against abortion except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. You can assume "W" feels the same way, but we don’t believe you’ll find similar statements on the record from “W”. Actually he’s been artful in dodging the issue, not that what he believes or hopes really matters.

Anyway, if someone was pro-choice why should they be worried about Roe being overturned if Alito joins the court?

Here's how we see the court breakdown on the Roe issue:

Roberts – Unknown
Stevens – Supports Roe
Scalia – Against Roe
Kennedy – Supports Roe
Souter – Supports Roe
Thomas - Against Roe
Ginsburg – Supports Roe
Breyer – Supports Roe
Alito – Unknown

Now even if both Roberts and Alito, both unknowns at this point, adopt an anti-Roe position, it's still a 5 to 4 court in favor of Roe.

If we had to guess, we'd say Alito is unlikely to be "voting" to overturn Roe given his restrained approach to judging. Actually, the same is probably true of Roberts. Time will tell.

In the very unlikely event the Supreme Court overturned Roe, abortion would not be banned in the U.S. The matter would be returned to the states and legal abortion as we know it today would be available in nearly every state and unquestionably in New Jersey.

Legal abortion is here to stay, at least for our lifetime (yours and ours) no matter how the Supreme Court may rule.


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