Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alito Nomination Goes to Full Senate

This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - The Judiciary Committee favorably recommended
Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate on a party-line vote Tuesday, moving the conservative jurist one step closer to joining the high court.

All 10 Republicans voted for Alito, while all eight Democrats voted against him. The partisan vote was almost preordained, with 15 of the 18 senators announcing their votes even before the committee's session began.

The full Senate expects to take a final vote on Alito's nomination before the end of the week. That vote is also expected to follow along party lines, with only one Democrat — Ben Nelson of Nebraska — coming out so far in support of Alito. Republicans hold the balance of power in the Senate 55-44, with one independent.

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), (R) talks with Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter (R-PA), (L) before announcing he would vote against the nomination of Samuel Alito for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court before a full committee vote on Capitol Hill January 24, 2006. The committee is expected to vote in favor of Alito and send his nomination to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a full vote. REUTERS/Larry Downing

In one sense, it doesn't surprise me that the Judiciary Committee voted the way it did. From what I saw and read on the Alito confirmation hearings, the Republican senators seem to fawn and sing praises on Alito, while the Democrats spent their time heaping criticisms on him. And of course, Alito never really answered any questions regarding his judicial philosophy, but rather deferred and deflected the questions. In short, the hearings were a complete farce. And now the committee has voted in a straight party-line fashion.

What angers me is that the Democrats are either refusing to initiate a filibuster, or are saying that a filibuster is not warranted on Alito. The Democrats have not yet grown a spine to become a viable opposition party. When are they going to take a stand against the Republican power-grab on the Supreme Court? After Justice John Paul Stevens dies or retires? After Justice Ruth Badar Ginsberg steps down?

Judge Samuel Alito smiles on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006 after the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a 10-8 party line vote, sent his nomination to the Supreme Court to the Senate floor where a final confirmation vote is expected later this week. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

There is a lot of anger within the liberal and progressive blogosphere. And much of this anger is not just directed at the Republican-controlled Congress and White House, but also at the Democratic leadership. The top Democratic Party leaders play these little tactical games with the politics--and each time they play, the seem to lose. The top Democratic Party leaders play these political games, using issues that are defined by the Republican Party--gay marriage, war on terror, activist judges legislating from the bench. The Democrats have to change their entire strategy in their own attacks against the Republicans. They have to draw a line in the sand on issues that the Republicans should never cross, then they should attack the Republicans on those issues using their own terms and definitions. If the Republicans talk about activist judges legislating from the bench, the Democrats need to counter by showing Republican judges who legislate from the bench in favor of conservative issues. The Democrats need to draw a line in the sand on Alito, and filibuster him. They need to attack Alito on the issues of reversing abortion and giving more "unitary powers" to the Bush White House. The Democrats need to attack the Republicans on class warfare--showing how Republican legislation benefits the ultra elites and corporate interests, at the expense of all Americans. They need to attack the Republicans on the "culture of corruption," naming those Republican congressmen who engage in such transgressions, and then provide real alternatives to clean up Washington. The Democrats need to take a stand and force showdowns after showdowns on a number of issues--perhaps even to the point of shutting the government down, or holding up the budget, or even denying the military funds continue the war in Iraq. The Democrats need to take the reigns and become the viable opposition party to check this Republican expansion of power. They need to understand that while political battles may be lost in this opposition fight against the Republicans, the more political power that the Republicans can gain, the more the Republicans can implode as a result of this corruption being publicized. What political party will come in to the power vacuum left over by the Republican's implosion? If the Democrats think that the American public will simply hand over power to them, they are wrong. The Democrats need to earn that power with their own fight, and in providing their own views on the issues and in the leadership of this country.

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