Hearings on Sam Alito Underway

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has begun hearings on the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.

Here in Oregon, activists are urging pressure on Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith. From the Gazette-Times:

“The most important way (to effect change) is to call Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith and let them know what they’re expected to do,” [Tina] Empol said, and as chapter president of Oregon N.O.W., National Organization for Women, what she expects her representatives to do is deny Alito a seat on the Supreme Court. ...
Sara Wetherson of the National Council of Jewish Women, Portland Section, re-iterated the call for filling O’Connor’s seat with a moderate voice. “The bottom line is we have to ask ourselves what’s good for us,” she said. “The protections we seek as a religious minority cannot exist in a vacuum, but in the context of the larger society in which everyone’s rights and freedoms are protected.”

Smith: 503-326-3386
Wyden: 503-326-7525

Use this space to discuss Sam Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.

  • (Show?)

    Ooooh, nice lotta chatter. Okay, I'll start. Alito is clearly an unacceptable nominee, by any standard one chooses. At Hog I selected three, none of which are abortion:

    * Racism. He would have "eviscerated" legal protections in the Civil Rights Act, would have made it more difficult for people to bring a case alleging discrimination to the court (he was the 1 in a 10-1 decision), and he ruled that a conviction against a black defendant was legal, despite the prosecution's stacking of the jury. * Ultraconservative on states' rights issues. From PFAW: "In another case, Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, Alito held that Congress had no authority to require state employers to pay damages for violating employees' rights to sick leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act [ii], a ruling that was effectively repudiated by the Supreme Court in a later case in which ultra-conservative Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the Court's decision [iii]." * Searches and seizures. From Jonathan Turley's USA Today editorial: "For example, in Doe v. Groody, Alito wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that police officers could strip-search a mother and her 10-year-old daughter, despite the fact that neither was named in the search warrant nor suspected of crimes. The majority opinion was authored by fellow Republican and conservative Judge Michael Chertoff (now serving as secretary of Homeland Security). Chertoff criticized Alito's views as threatening to "transform the judicial officer into little more than the cliché 'rubber stamp.'"

    He is doing his best Roberts imitation, but the ostrich defense is nothing more than polite lying. Even if he were a reasonably close bet, I'd call his answers a subversion of the consent process of the Senate (Bush subvert the "advise" process). There is no way this guy should be on the court.

    He will be, though.

  • (Show?)

    That parenthetical, rendered in actual English, might read "(Bush already subverted the "advise" process)". I often write incoherently in comment threads, due perhaps to a rare neurological disorder. Please don't call attention to it.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
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    <h1></h1>

    Phone calling is good, but Gordon Smith doesn't have a vote you might sway. He sold his to Abramoff.

    That way, he can skip the heavy lifting -- no ponderous delibertion, no weighing the merits of the candidate (born on April Fool's day, tricking his way toward the Supreme Court). Smith's vote is already sealed in favor of whatever nazi nominee comes.

    If you don't believe it, just watch him waste it.

    <h1></h1>
  • (Show?)

    For all you interested folks out there, the Oregon Chapter of the American Constitution Society is hosting a talk on the Alito nomination at noon on Friday, Jan. 20, at the law offices of Davis Wright Tremaine. Jeff Berman of People for the American Way (a key opponent of Alito) will be speaking and lunch will be provided.

    The event is free for ACS members and $10 for anyone else. You can RSVP (strongly recommended) by emailing [email protected]

  • Thersites (unverified)
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    Great to find your site! I just posted a comment on an old thread where the term "neoprogressive" is discussed and my site is linked. (Please check it out -- I'm adamant that "neoprog" is an essential liberal, not conservative, term!)

    On topic: the best part of today's hearing, imho, was Chuck Schumer challenging Alito on Roe. His question: does the Constitution protect free speech?; Alito's prompt answer: of course; and Schumer's followup: then why can't you say whether it protects abortion? -- a brilliant colloquy!

    I excerpted the key parts on my site, along with the key portion of the 1985 memo where Alito flatly says the Constitution doesn't protect abortion; you might want to check it out. The NeoProgBlog.

  • done deal (unverified)
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    Alito is a done deal. Suffer through it and hope another justice doesn't retire before Hillary gets elected.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
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    Alito. Rhymes with finito.

    Take him away. O'Connor stays. Start impeaching.

    <h1></h1>
  • Skip from Gresham (unverified)
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    Damn how did we end up with Kennedy, Schumer, and Feinstein on the judicial committee? They've screwed the pooch....Alioto is dead certain to be confirmed....all because certain progressive senators thought more about grandstanding than actually asking questions that would expose Alioto for what he really is.

    Oh well...Canadian abortions are readily available and the stock market will jump up a few more points once the ultra conservative VERY pro-corproate nominee is confirmed for the court. My 401k could use another nice bump in value.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Skip - what is your definition of "progressive" that you blame? From your posts the only common theme seems to be Democrats with which you disagree because they don't seem to fall into the black hole of the "middle", pretty much defined only by the absence of any clearly articulated positions. Disagreements are fair enough, and personal definitions are certainly within one's rights, but communication suffers when we don't use impart a shared meaning to term. On another thread the same question was valiantly discussed. (I had nothing to add, because I couldn't really see a common understanding developing.)

    Clearly the question developing in this hearing to reasonable people is: Does this the nominee truly have the required character to be a judge? What really stands out glaringly in his testimony is that, unlike a lot of nominees, his approach to deflecting a lot of questions about past questionable actions and positions is to make excuses and rely on flaks to make further excuses for him. That really is different from the approach of a lot of other recent nominees, and the failure to take personal responsibility really is troubling in a person who will be on the highest court for life.

    As of yesterday, Ron was still playing cute by saying he hadn't made up his mind. Given the character issue just cited, that at best raises troubling questions about his judgement and competence.
    So to the extent commentators on this board seem to agree that the nominee is not a good person for the job, a more interesting question whether all of you on the purplish side, led by the named "contributors" Kari, Jeff, T.A. and down the list, are willing to stand up and publicly reject Ron by making it known you are ready to put forward and start to advocate for another Democrat for his position unless he makes it known now that he has heard enough and will vote "No"? There are prominent Democrats who have been elected to statewide and/or Federal office who certainly would make good candidates for a purplish majority moved to action by a feeling that Ron, at the bottom line, disrespects them by taking them for granted. This would be the real test of the value of this forum and indeed the political mettle of all who are concerned by the radical authoritarian right-wing shift in this country.

  • (Show?)

    Anyone want to make a call?

    I belive he'll gain the votes of Democrats Feinstein, Kohl, Biden, and Leahy. May be wrong on Biden given his incipient presidential bid. Leahy's most recent public statements are pretty negative, but as Democratic chair of the committee, he may not stand against a nomination that seems to me pretty smooth sailing on the floor. Durbin, Feingold, Kennedy, and I think Schumer are a no. All Republicans will vote yea. So that's 14-4 on the committee.

    On the floor... more unpredictable... I'll say 63/37.

  • (Show?)

    Hey "askquestions" reading the above, one might reasonably wonder.....shall we say......yes we shall.....if you stand where you say you stand.

    Since you don't identify yourself on the board, may I suggest:

    Agent Provocateur

    I'm not defending the Skipster here, just wondering what that last post was about, 'cause you can obviously spell and string sentences together, so I seriously doubt that you're that politically naive.

    <hr/>

    This whole Alito thing is pure theater anyway. Each person in the room knows who their audience is and the outcome as well.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)
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    When Teddy started asking him questions about the Princeton Alumni magazine, I knew the game was over. You think any of Clinton's nominees ever read an article that most Republican's would find offensive in their alumni magazines (or Mother Jones, or the Planned Parenthood fundraiser, or the ACLU newsletter)? Whatever happened to freedom of association?

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Folks on the right like W. Bruce Anderholt II illustrate an important point: They preach "personal responsibility" except for everybody but themselves. He talks about "freedom of association" (in this case with bigots of several stripes which seems okay with you and may be your real issue), but in fact your guy didn't. He made every excuse in the book for his elitist, extremist right-wing views, including in this matter coming to rest on the Judas excuse of distancing himself from CAP, and that he couldn't even remember being a member. Which either makes him a liar on his 1985 application or a liar under oath in this confirmation. He came up with three different excuses for the Vanguard issue, which primarily as about a written promise to the Senate and therefore the people, as each was proving to be, shall we say, less than truthful.

    The point of the confirmation process is to decide whether the nominee has the skill and character to be on the court. A lot of folks who have anything but the best interest of the commonweal at heart have superior reasoning skills. But how can anyone argue that a guy who takes no personal responsibility for his actions, and instead makes juvenile excuses when he is called out for them, possibly be seen as having the character to be the final arbiter of our system of laws?

    What is really striking is the number of "notables" brought forth who are willing to cheerfully debase themselves by attesting to his character and temperament. Truly amazing.

  • Alice (unverified)
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    Sam Alito joined an organization called "Concerned Alumni of Princeton" that published a magazine called "Prospect". He said he joined the organization because of a movement to push ROTC off the Princeton campus. Do you really believe that makes him responsible for every opinion published in the magazine or newsletter? Alito didn't publish or edit the newsletter. Alito may not have read any of their newsletters. Would you want your social ethics to be based on every article published in your alumni magazine?

    The below appeared in the November 18, 2005 issue of the Daily Princetonian:

    The only CAP member who could be reached by The Daily Princetonian, Alito supporter and former New Jersey Superior Court judge Andrew Napolitano '72, defended the group, saying that there is "absolutely no way" it sought to protest coeducation.

    The organization, Napolitano said, was committed instead to increasing alumni involvement in Princeton and tempering "the University's anti-traditionalist leftist urges" at a sensitive time in history when the majority of students and faculty were opposed to the Nixon administration's policies, particularly the Vietnam War.
    
    Napolitano said he never associated himself with any individual's anti-coeducation stance, adding that "Sam Alito would never associate himself with that" either.
    
    Also, Napolitano, who served on CAP's board from its founding in 1972 until it shut down in the early 1980s, said that he has "zero recollection of Sam Alito being involved directly or indirectly" with the group.</i>.
    
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    Paul: I haven't caught all of the testimony but I would be a little surprised if Biden and Feinstein voted for Alito after having voted against Roberts, given that this is a politically easier "no" for a variety of reasons. I would have put Feingold as a "yes" because of his views on deference to presidential nominations, but his obsession with the Vanguard investment (a non-issue, I think) has surprised me. Plus he also may need a "no" politically to counteract his "yes" on Roberts.

    Just for the sake of arguing with you, I'll call it 12-6, and 62-38.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)
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    Ask 1st (shoot later?):

    Because I think Ted Kennedy is pathetic, I'm an elitist right-wing bigot? Or, were you just summarizing your lefty fringe talking points on Alito? Alito's belly button lint has more integrity than you and your favorite alumni magazine put together.

    Surely you remember every college club or organization that you "joined" or had an affinity with? Certainly you never put anything on a job application that may have overstated your level of participation or achievement. Let's say he paid for a one years subscription to "Prospect"...That might qualify him for "Joined CAP" on a job application. Should that disqualify him from sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court? SenATOR Byrd was actively involved with the KKK, but nobody suggested he be removed from the U.S. Senate. To the contrary, it helped him get elected by DEMOCRATS back in the day. Does anybody believe the "Concerned Alumni of Princeton" was as bad as the KKK? PLLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSE.

    The hypocrisy of the left is literally oozing off the pages of B/O. What's that Smell? That's Teddy Kennedy's last shred of dignity going up in smoke, live on C-Span! What would Mary Jo say?

  • (Show?)

    Chris,

    Yeah, I sure mis-called that one. I was listening to a lot of the hearing and it seemed like Alito fouled off everything pretty cleanly. Perhaps a number of the Dems were already opposed and so did not press him severely.

    You're right--the story in today's Times makes it look like the vote in the committee is going to be party line. Alito will probably get the bare minimum beyond filibuster (60 or 61 votes). I think you're gonna win that one!

  • JRA (unverified)
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    askquestions1st: You're a young attorney trying to land a job in the White House. Wouldn't you beef you resume up with as much as possible, even if it was with a club you were mildly associated with or only participated in once or twice? I think it's an entirely plausible excuse. And the whole issue is irrelevant anyways. The guy is highly qualified and should be (and will be on the Supreme Court for the next few decades. YAY!

  • JRA (unverified)
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    Thersites: what the hell does free speech have to do with killing an unborn child?

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Interesting isn't it, how the right-wing true-believers reflexively respond when someone exposes the real problem with one of their own like the nominee, isn't it? I won't repeat what was written earlier, only re-emphasize the real issue is that the nominee has repeatedly refused to take personal responsibility for his own actions and statements. Instead he made excuses and tried to distract attention away from that fact.

    But the other side also has a problem of integrity here. Make no mistake: The nominee is on record in support of the authoritarian power of the state (aka the perogatives of the "unitary executive") against the individual in general, and he will work to influence the court to rule accordingly. And if he sees the slightest opening to read the constitution in a tortured way so that he can argue to overturn Roe, he most certainly will work to influence to the court to do so. His actions and testimony clearly demonstrate a character deficit in which the ends justify the means. The nominee didn't have the guts to admit this in the hearing because he --- and the senators --- know upwards of 70% of Americans have said that he should be filibustered and not confirmed if he intended to overturn Roe.

    Despite any assurances he made to our senators in private pre-hearing conferences on this question, and in contrast to similar assurances from our now chief justice, the senators now have objective evidence that any personal assurances by this nominee are worth little. But you right-wing true believers should take comfort that a lot of the other side really isn't so different from you. Have you read or heard of any significant number of calls in the "grassroots" chatter on this or the other progressive/left blogs for Ron to exercise his personal right and responsibility to filibuster this nominee? Much less even a call that his base should turn away from him to a candidate with greater integrity and leadership ability unless he just announces his position and presents some principled leadership in opposition now that the nominee has finished testifying?

    As Franklin is reported to have responded to a woman's question "What have you given us sir, a republic or a monarchy?" at the end of the Constitutional Convention: "A republic, if you can keep it" . I'd argue keeping it starts with demanding integrity on your own side so that you are in a position to demand the other side be accountable.

  • Alice (unverified)
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    Thersites:

    Clearly, the 1st Amendment protects free speech. The 10th Amendment states:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to say that individual States retain all powers not specifically enumerated (as Federal), or prohibited under Federal Law. On this basis, why couldn't the Oregon Legislature outlaw abortions?

    I was unable to locate any Constitutional provision regarding a woman's right to kill her fetus. Perhaps you've found one?

    My understanding is that British Common Law (the context in which our founding fathers were raised) regarded infanticide as a capital crime, and treated the inducement of abortion with severity.

    In 1624, the English Parliament passed an ‘Act to prevent the destroying and murthering of bastard children’, which remained in force until the early 19th century (its replacement was not, however, greatly different). It wasn’t just English law: there were similar laws passed in other European countries around this time.

    The statute enacted that any woman who secretly gave birth to a illegitimate child and killed it, or procured its death, or attempted to conceal its death, ‘whether it were born alive or not’ (my emphasis), should ’suffer death as in case of murther’.

    In 1803, a criminal abortion law was codified by Lord Ellenborough. The abortion of a "quick" fetus became a capital offence, while abortions performed prior to quickening incurred lesser penalties.

    I recognize we are all so much more modern and enlighted than our 18th Century forefathers. That said, we also have many more contraceptive options than our predecessors. Shouldn't a caring, progressive, pacifist community of liberals care one iota about the rights of the unborn?

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Arguments such as Alice's are easy to refute on the facts:

    1) The fundamental principle of constitutional law is that the people may not take actions which implicitly or explicitly render our Constitutional guarantees meaningless. Unless, of course, they first amend the Constitution to circumvent any such problems.

    2) The Supreme Court made clear exactly from where the right to privacy, and therefore the right to have control over one's body stems in the current state of our Constitution. They explained in detail first that these are accepted foundational principles in our society, and second that without them as predicates there is no rational basis on which an honest intellect can construct a coherent framework of meaning to the Constitution. (The anti-choice side should take the time to actually read the Roe decision.)

    3) Any misguided argument by states-righters that these are not accepted principles and the basis of meaning for our Constitution, are completely and easily refuted by the first clause of the XIVth Amendment which states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This means that no state may extend the meaning and rights of "citizenship" in a way which, as the Supreme Court argued in Roe, renders the Constitution meaningless. That in turn means in a way which is contrary to the individual's right to privacy and to exercise control over one's body.

    4) Finally, there can be no serious or intelligent argument that society did not support choice when the Constitution or the XIVth Amendment was ratified (1791 and 1868): Abortion was legal, publicly accepted, and widely practiced from the time the Constitution was ratified until the AMA started to work to regulate it in the 1860s and 1870s as part of their effort to gain control in our society of who should have the right to practice medicine. The historical fact is that the initial developments in state regulation of abortion had nothing to do with outlawing it on reactionary religious grounds, but instead as a result of an unfortunate combination of a genuine interest in making it a safer procedure and to gain political power for the AMA as the representative of the allopathic (now "traditional") medicine against the competing homeopathic, naturopathic, and osteopathic medical traditions. (Without casting aspersions on traditional medicine, to understand that the political dimension is real, one must recall that the AMA was founded less than 20 years earlier in 1847, in the 1930s opposed the first HMOs designed as part of the New Deal to bring health care to people who couldn't afford it, and opposed the creation of Medicare in the 1950s and 1960s.)

  • Alice (unverified)
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    I'll take that as not one iota of concern for the unborn.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Actually Alice, if you were intellectually honest and spiritually whole, you would recognize deep respect for the truth and the most noble spiritual priniciples of this republic in fact evidences the highest level of concern for the born nurturing developing life in their own bodies, and therefore is the highest possible level of concern and respect for that developing life.

    Your use of meaningless but emotional-laden terminology like the "unborn" and argumentation that the radical right uses as a propoganda weapon in the brutal and immoral cultural war they have launched against the people and the very foundations of this country at best demonstrates a sadly misguided and spiritually impoverished concern for your fellow human beings, born and "unborn".

  • Thersites (unverified)
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    Hearings are over, Alito is a barely-concealed anti-abortion Federalist, and as of last Friday Sen. Wyden HADN'T YET MADE UP HIS MIND ON HOW TO VOTE?

    Jeez. The Democratic caucus should be mounting a filibuster. To consider the possibility of voting for the guy means our favorite son may be losing his grasp. This isn't a hard call, Senator!

    If anyone wants to call Wyden's office, the no. is 202-224-5244. And if anyone cares to read my blogs on Alito's stances on abortion (also here) and executive power, feel free to swing by!

  • Thersites (unverified)
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    Thersites: what the hell does free speech have to do with killing an unborn child?

    Simple: if Alito could answer a question on whether he believes the Constitution protects free speech, then he should be able to answer a question about whether he believes the Constitution protects a woman's right to obtain an abortion. He answered that question clearly and succinctly in '85 -- the Constitution, in his view, did not contain a right to abortion. And both questions can be complicated -- free speech rights are qualified by national security issues, libel laws, whether one can shout fire in a crowded theater etc. Yet Alito pretended he was unable to articulate a basic view on abortion law. That's disingenuous.

    Every recent Democratic nominee has stated his or her position on abortion, and let the chips fall where they may. Why can't a Republican nominee be similarly open, and defend his position on the merits instead of ducking and dodging?

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