Friday, December 02, 2005

Newly Released Papers Energize Alito's Critics

I have not been blogging much on the Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito. But I did find two interesting articles in the Washington Post, which I should comment on.

Here's the first Post article:

Newly released documents by Samuel A. Alito Jr. touching on abortion and other issues have pumped new life into efforts to sharply challenge his nomination to the Supreme Court, liberal activists said yesterday.

Details of Alito's 1985 strategy to undermine the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling have energized abortion rights groups, they said, but broader questions about his overall credibility may eventually prove more problematic to the Bush administration's confirmation efforts. One Democratic senator demanded yesterday that Alito explain why he omitted references to a 17-page abortion-strategy memo in a questionnaire recently returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, while another senator -- Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the committee's senior member -- said that "a credibility gap is emerging with each new piece of information released on Judge Alito's record."

So Alito never bothered mentioning these references to a 17-page abortion-strategy memo in his Senate questionnaire? What happened Alito--did the same dog that ate Harriet Mier's homework, also ate your homework? Come on--abortion is going to be one of the biggest issues in determining whether Alito is going to be confirmed on the Supreme Court, considering that a moderate conservative is going to be replaced by a hard-liner. This is a huge credibility gap.

But it gets worst. Continuing on with the first Post story:

The flurry of events was triggered by the release Wednesday of the lengthy 1985 memo in which Alito, then a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, outlined a strategy for attacking the 1973 Roe ruling without making a "frontal assault" that might prove unwinnable. "What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?" he asked in the memo concerning a Pennsylvania case before the Supreme Court, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Alito did not cite the case in his responses to the Senate questionnaire, also released on Wednesday, which asked him to describe the most significant litigation matters he has handled. The omission angered Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will convene for Alito's confirmation hearing on Jan. 9.

"In light of your 17-page memorandum and the accounts of your former colleagues, your 'participation in the litigation' was clearly substantial," Schumer said in a letter asking Alito to explain. Citing a previously disclosed memo in which Alito successfully sought a promotion in the Justice Department, Schumer added: "In your 1985 job application, written only a few months later, you appeared to highlight your work on the Thornburgh case."

So Alito was in the middle of this entire assault on Roe by outlining its strategy in the Reagan Justice Department. I especially like his comments of advancing "the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." This tells me that Alito wanted to steadily restrict a woman's right to an abortion, while trying to avoid the pro-choice outrage of actually overturning Roe. Will Alito continue this strategy once he gets on the Supreme Court? Alito needs to explain himself on that statement.

Of course, he'll deny it in perfect legalese terms of answering the question by not answering the question.

Other issues that Alito needs to explain:

Democrats said they will press Alito to explain other circumstances in which his statements have conflicted to some degree. When confirmed to a federal appeals court in 1990, Alito told senators he would not rule in matters regarding the investment firm Vanguard Group Inc., in which he had several accounts. Alito did rule in a 2002 case involving Vanguard, however, and later gave several accounts of the circumstances. He said a courthouse computer program failed to alert him to the potential conflict of interest; that he was not legally or ethically bound to recuse himself; and that his statement to the senators applied only to his first few years on the court.

Alito lied here regarding his statement to senators saying he would not rule on the Vanguard issue. He didn't know about his accounts at Vanguard? Is he that clueless as to where he places his money? A computer program failed to alert him of the conflict of interest? I'm sorry, but that's a flat out lie. Continuing on:

Democrats also noted that in his questionnaire responses, Alito distanced himself from a conservative group, Concerned Alumni of Princeton, that denounced that university's admissions policies in the 1970s and early 1980s. The policies increased the number of female and minority students. Alito cited his membership in the group in his 1985 application for the Justice Department promotion, but he wrote on the questionnaire released on Wednesday: "Apart from that document, I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings, or otherwise participating in the activities of the group."

Kennedy said in a statement yesterday that Alito "bears an especially heavy burden at the hearings in January to explain the growing number of discrepancies between his current statements and his past actions."

"He told senators that he wasn't involved in Thornburgh , yet a detailed memo was released [Wednesday] showing that he was," Kennedy said. "In 1990, he said he'd recuse himself from all cases involving Vanguard. Yet he didn't and has changed his story as to why six times. Its not the crime, its the cover up."

Another flat out lie. Alito writes about his membership to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton in his application for a Justice Department promotion--during the Regan Administration. But now since such membership in an extremely conservative group could cause troubles in Alito's quest to get on the Supreme Court, and tip the balance of the court to a far more conservative stance, Alito conveniently leaves this membership off his Supreme Court questionnaire by saying he doesn't remember attending any meetings or working in that group. Another Alito lie. In fact, such behavior makes Alito more than just a liar--it makes Alito a hypocrite.

Now I come to the second Washington Post story:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., regards the right to abortion as a precedent "embedded in our culture" and thus not lightly overruled, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said today.

Specter said that in his conversation with Alito today, the nominee also made a "sharp distinction" between his role as a judge and personal views or views he advocated on behalf of the Reagan administration, including his 1985 position that Roe v. Wade should be overruled.

Specter's statements at a news conference, where he carefully read from notes of his discussions with Alito, suggest that he will follow the path of Chief Justice John G. Roberts during his January confirmation hearings by avoiding a direct statement of his personal views on Roe v. Wade , the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

Liberals and some conservatives had hoped for a more open confrontation over Roe at the hearings, on the theory that Alito had committed himself on paper in the 1980s in a manner Roberts never had.

Specter's comments follow release this week of a 1985 memorandum written by Alito when he was an assistant to the solicitor general advocating a strategy to chip away and ultimately overturn Roe.

Specter said Alito also distanced himself from a 1985 job application letter in which he said that the right to abortion could not be found in the constitution, as the Roe decision said.

Specter said he questioned Alito, in the context of Roe , about his views on stare decisis , the bedrock principle that precedents should be left in place whenever possible.

Specter then said: "On some of the particulars as to how he [Alito] would move ahead and decide issues with respect to stare decisis , I questioned him about an analogous situation on the Miranda decision with Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion, writing in 1974 opposing Miranda, which had come down in 1966," Specter said.

"But by the year 2000, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote an opinion upholding Miranda, saying that it was better than the police practices of the era and should be sustained on changing circumstances.

"And Judge Alito says that when a matter is embedded in the culture, it's a considerable factor in the application of stare decisis ," Specter added.

"And the analogy as to how Chief Justice Rehnquist handled Miranda would be analogous, as he said, to applicable principles in deciding on a woman's right to choose."

Specter added later that Alito did not elaborate further but said he considered Alito's comments a "considerable statement. I'm not going to interpret his words. I think those words are very meaningful as to his jurisprudence and as to weight."

"Judge Alito commented about those matters to me and raised a sharp distinction, as he put it, between his role as an advocate and his role as a judge," Specter said.

"And with respect to his personal views on a woman's right to choose, he says that that is not a matter to be considered in the [judge's] deliberation on a constitutional issue of a woman's right to choose. The judicial role is entirely different.

And I'm suppose to believe what you tell me Specter? I'm sorry, but you disgust me.

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