Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Parsing Alito, part 3

Orrin Hatch is one of the "elder statesmen" of the Republican Party, and as such, can be expected to carry their standard in any appearances he makes. So what kind of standard bearer is he? Let's see:
HATCH: Welcome, Judge Alito. We appreciate you and the service that you have given. But much has been made about your membership in an organization called the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. You mentioned this organization in your 1985 job application for a position in President Reagan's administration. And you've told us what you felt you know about your membership in that organization. So is it fair to say that you were not a founding member?
ALITO: I certainly was not a founding member.
HATCH: You were not a board member?
ALITO: I was not a board member.
HATCH: Or for that matter, you were not even an active member of the organization, to the best of your recollection?
ALITO: I don't believe I did anything that was active in relation to this organization.
HATCH: Well, some have suggested, as my friend from Massachusetts did yesterday, that by your membership in this organization, you were somehow against the rights of women and minorities attending colleges. So let me just ask you directly, on the record, are you against women and minorities attending colleges?
ALITO: Absolutely not, Senator. No.
HATCH: You know, I felt that that would be your answer. I really did.
That's a good question, though. It's one that kind of overcomes the implications that you were.

Everyone out there who thought that Sammy would actually answer "yes" to Hatch's question re: women and minorities, please raise your hands. No one? Gee, even if he really believed it? No? But Orrin thought that it was "a good question"; in fact, he even felt that he had to tell us that, lest we think he was simply puffing up his own ego while simultaneously lobbing softballs to his new judicial hero!
Even amidst the softballs, though, Sammy demonstrated a remarkable inability to give us real evidence that he's not a total jerk:
HATCH: Well, much has been written about the just and egalitarian changes that took place at Princeton and other elite institutions in the 1960's, making them more welcoming to persons without an elite background. It has been alleged by some -- most prominently, I might add, by a Democratic witness who was withdrawn at the last minute because of some politically embarrassing comments that he made -- that your membership in this group demonstrates your desire to maintain some old boy's network to the detriment of women and minorities. Could you comment on that particular suggestion?
ALITO: I certainly had no such desire. And I think that what I did when I was a student at Princeton and my activities since then illustrate that. As I said, when I was at Princeton, I was a member of this university facility, and it was open to everybody, and it was one of the most coeducational facilities on the campus. And since graduating, I have actually been involved in a way in the admissions process. I was on the school's committee for a number of years and interviewed applicants to Princeton. And I think that shows my attitude toward the general way in which the university has been run.

Notice that even though he asserts that his activities "when [he] was a student...and since then" prove that he's not a bigot, he doesn't actually give us any evidence. His reference to a "university facility" which was "open to everybody" is completely disingenuous--he's referring to the eating hall he joined, which was only open to those who could afford to pay the fees. I wonder how many of the vast hordes of women and ethnic minorities that were crowding Princeton's halls back then could afford to belong to this facility that was "open to everybody" . . . (Although he doesn't even say that it was open to non-whites, does he? It was only "one of the most coeducational facilities on campus"--meaning what? They allowed one woman instead of zero? Who can say?) And his statement regarding his participation in the admissions process is wholly empty--he doesn't even stress the possibility that he actively advocated for the admission of minorities, leaving open, of course the question of what he was doing on those admission boards.
Sammy made clear (ahem) his judicial "philosophy" to Hatch a little later:
ALITO: My general philosophy is that the judiciary has a very important role to play. And, in speaking with Senator Leahy, I highlighted some of that. But the judiciary has to protect rights. And it should be vigorous in doing that. And it should be vigorous in enforcing the law and in interpreting the law in accordance with what it really means and enforcing the law even if that's unpopular. But, although the judiciary has a very important role to play, it's a limited role. It is not -- it should always be asking itself whether it is straying over the bounds, whether it's invading the authority of the legislature, for example, whether it is making policy judgments rather than interpreting the law. And that has to be a constant process of reexamination on the part of the judges. And that's the role that the judiciary should play.
Sounds almost human, doesn't he? Let's look closer, putting aside the fact that he sounds as if he's lecturing 5 year olds instead of speaking to esteemed members of the Senate (well, other than Kyl, that is. [/snark]) Even though Sammy stresses the limitations of the judiciary (thereby appeasing all who could possibly claim that he's one of those dreaded "activist judges" we're all supposed to so scared of, right?), he gets it so wrong as to be laughable. You see, the judiciary has absolutely no business "enforcing" the law--that's what the Executive Branch does. And it wasn't a simple slip, either--Sammy says it twice! What he's saying, in effect, is that while there is a very clean line between the Judicial and Legislative Branches--judges shouldn't be making "policy judgments", now, remember that, Senator Kennedy--he either doesn't see as clean a division between the judiciary and the executive, or he simply doesn't understand the difference! We can't tell from this whether his philosophy is slanted or just plain ignorant, but it really shouldn't matter--either would disqualify him from the bench. Oh yeah, except for the fact that he's a sure vote to kill off the last vestiges of our liberty against corporations and Presidential oppression, that is . . .


Blogger sporksforall said...

Since I always view politics through a personal lens, I find myself (gasp) wishing I hadn't been so negative about Miers. If it were she and not Alito on the verge of confirmation, I would sleep better at night. I don't think my rants about her affected her nom, but you never know.

11:25 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

I hear you, but don't despair just yet. There's always a chance the Dems'll show some spine and filibuster Sammy's ass, which probably wouldn't have happened to Miers (due to a complete lack of a paper trail to her unfitness). If not, we're all screwed for many decades to come, unless we get a Dem/liberal President and Senate when Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito all get swept up in the rapture.

12:07 PM  

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