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What Would People Think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Get Your Alito Fix

So you're wondering what's going on in the Alito hearings and you want a little more than 3 minutes in the evening news? Good thing you know me. Let me hook you up with some liveblogging.

The New York Times's David Kirkpatrick is posting pretty regularly. It's more of a reporter's eye view of things than legal analysis, but it's occasionally interesting. I basically agree with the Kirkpatrick's quote from one of my professors, Erwin Chemerinsky: Alito is saying a lot of nothing and will therefore have to be judged on his (disturbing) written record.

If you are truly a glutton for detail SCOTUSblog is liveblogging every detail of the hearings. This is a site for lawyers and law students, so it may have more legal mumbo-jumbo than you normal human beings are used to. But if you want to know what's going on in the hearings, this is definitely the way to know.

The media at least is focusing on abortion and the extent of presidential powers. Man does that leave me torn.

Abortion is murder. Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Fetuses are possibly the last group of human beings that receive no constitutional protection. I would be thrilled if a Justice Alito voted to overturn Roe. (By the way, the Court needs at least one more anti-Roe person besides Alito to overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey.)

But the President is not a King. Not even war (especially not an amorphous "War on Terrorism") gives him a blank check to trample on the the rule of law and on our civil liberties. One of the fundamental insights of our nation's history (and of Christianity) is that people are easily corrupted by power. Nobody but nobody should have unlimited power. And I sure as hell don't trust a President who holds the law in such low regard.

I don't know what to think. Maybe I wimp out on abortion because most of my friends are liberal and pro-choice (and because I'm president of the Duke Law Democrats...guess what the people I'm "leading" believe). Or maybe I'm justified in passionately opposing Alito because I disagree with him on just about everything except abortion (i.e. presidential powers, congressional power under the Commerce Clause, the rights of criminal defendants, etc.).

So I'm conflicted. Oh, and I once again, by stating my opinion, have ensured that I will never hold political office.


  • First, based on this post at least, I don't think you've eliminated yourself from political consideration. My guess is there are a lot more people out there who agree with you than you think. Maybe not on the East Coast, and maybe they're not the people out there doing the op/ed pieces, but trust me, they're there.

    Second, I think Alito will prove to be more liberal than you fear. He's proven to be conservative, but he's not one of those unsympathetic conservatives, and at he really does seem to be genuine in his approach, and not simply results oriented like some. I think Roberts will be much the same way. Give us Catholics some credit. I mean, we pretty much invented social justice. We can all hope that Roberts and Alito are influenced by their religion to protect the interests of the disadvantaged. (And now, to keep my hopes up, I'm just going to quietly ignore the fact that Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy are also Catholic...)

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 1/10/2006 8:26 PM  

  • Well I'm sure the Jews (and God, for that matter) might debate with you about who invented social justice.

    But nonetheless I do find myself in agreement with the Catholic approach to politics a lot of the time. I've imagined that if I were President (fat chance), and if I were to make a decision based on religion (not sure that's something I should or could do) I would go for a Catholic like John Noonan of the 9th Circuit. Noonan was appointed by Reagan b/c he's pro-life...but Reagan missed, among other things, Noonan's opposition to the death penalty.

    I'm less convinced about Alito and Roberts being "sympathetic conservatives." From what I've read, Alito seems pretty deferential to the Executive.

    By Blogger Ben, at 1/10/2006 10:29 PM  

  • Ok, so you've got me on the "invented" point. But still, Catholics and social justice go together like two things that go together very frequently.

    Also, deference to the executive isn't a bad thing in itself. It just happens to be a horrible thing with our current executive. Also, I watched about 4 hours of testimony today, and Alito allayed many of my concerns, particularly about the one man, one vote idea. I'm still a little wary on the executive's power to interpret away the illegality of their actions, but even with my doubts I think people opposed to Alito are severely overacting. Unlike with Roberts' confirmation, Alito has been pretty open with his answers and explainations, and has shown some real depth. I'm not always going to agree with the result, but I don't think I'll ever be able to accuse him of intellectual dishonesty. I don't know that I can say the same for a good number of those reacting to his answers (both pro and con).

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 1/11/2006 12:49 AM  

  • More on the Alito hearings at National Nitwit, America's number one source for disinformation.

    By Blogger Subcomandante Bob, at 1/11/2006 12:50 PM  

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