Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Do you hear what I hear?

Following the live blogging over at SCOTUSblog of the Alito hearings. What is there to report? Not much surprising. Alito says he respects stare decisis. Alito says he'd keep an open mind on abortion. Alito believes in a Constitutional right to privacy ala Griswold. Alito says that "no person in this country is above the law."

Well, as usual, NOW I feel much more comfortable with Judge Alito becoming Justice Alito. All of my fears have been abrogated.

Let's join others at the dissection table, shall we? As part of an exchange of ideas regarding abortion with Senator Spector, Alito said that stare decisis is a "very important doctrine that must be considered." Then he said, "Now, I don't want to leave the impression that stare decisis
is an inexorable command, because the Supreme Court has said that it is not." Neatly done. Leaves him plenty of room to thoughtfully consider previous cases the Supreme Court has decided then ditch them when it suits his purposes without being called a liar.

Doesn't "exchange of ideas" sound civilized? I wish our Democratic Senators weren't being so damn civilized right now.

Anyway, next up, Alito's view of abortion. He admitted that the 1985 statement (stating that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided) was his personal viewpoint on abortion at that time. Then he said, if he were to make that decision today, he'd consider precedent. After that? "If the analysis would get beyond that point, I would approach the question with an open mind." Because judges don't have agendas.

Of course they do. Their personal opinions are constantly reflected in their interpretation of the law. It's ridiculous to state otherwise, though judges do state it, ad nauseum. They have personal opinions and they have interpretations of law to back up those opinions. Which are also personal opinions. That we pay them to make.

Alito said that no one is above the law. He tried to backtrack from his much earlier statements about the "supremacy" of the Executive Branch, said that this was an "inapt" statement and that he believes in the equality of the Three Branches.

Then there was this whole discussion of the "unitary executive theory". Guess Constitutional Law was too long ago--can't pull out a thing from my head about this. Also can't find any exact quotes of what Alito said, just commentary about it, and commentary about what he's said in the past.

Apparently, for Reagan Republicans, unitary executive theory means that "the Constitution gives the president the executive power, and it includes the power to superintend and control subordinates in the executive branch." Bush's broad view of this means that he don't answer to NO BODY. He's King.

That's not a direct quote, you understand.

Alito helped form this legal viewpoint when he worked for Reagan. And he continued to endorse it as recently as 2000, in a speech to the infamous Federalist Society. Does he view it as broadly as Bush does? We dunno. (Of course, we DO know. But we're supposed to pretend we don't, since he's squirmed around the issue.) And he didn't feel the need to delineate his beliefs that clearly today. Let's hope the Judiciary Committee will find some ways to push him to do so over the next few days. Certainly the liberal blogs have plenty of suggestions for doing so.

There's more unitary executive theory stuff here and here. And the WSJ article is quite good, as well.

The Judiciary Committee's performance has been disappointing today. Not enough nailing Alito to the wall. Not enough pointed questions on his lying. No pointed questions on his lying. Let's hope tomorrow is better.

Until then,


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