Alito Hearings Opening Statements
Unless and until they send in another speaker at any point during the broadcast, I'll be liveblogging the confirmation hearings' opening statements, basking in the good company of so many illustrious bloggers.
Summarized, paraphrased, and updated throughout the proceedings:
Chairman Specter: Other than declaring war, this is the most important vote a Senator can be called to cast. Hearings should not have a "political tilt". It is inappropriate (but allowed) for a Senator to ask a nominee how he would vote on a matter likely to come before the Court and it is allowed for a nominee to refrain from answering. Hearings are a "subtle menuet".
Dominant issue, per Specter: abortion.
Leahy: Harriet Miers reference leaps out of the ranking Democrat's mouth, causing Ed to guffaw and ask "Who had 2 seconds in the 'How long until he mentions Harriet Miers' pool?" He then declared his intent to question Alito on the "one person, one vote" memo. He claimed he has not yet decided how to vote.
[Side note, from GOP talking points distributed earlier today: Judge Alito has never expressed disagreement with the principle of “one-person, one-vote.” In fact, it has been reported that he has told Senators that he considers it a bedrock principle of Constitutional law. Moreover, nothing Judge Alito has said or written anywhere suggests he would ever countenance such a grotesquely disproportionate apportionment.]
Hatch: This has been an unusually long process (the run-up to the hearings). Senators can ask the nominee whatever they want, but (as the Washington Post editorialized this morning), "he will not -- and should not -- tell Americans how he will vote on hotly contested issues." Alito's record is "long, broad, and deep" and warrants a judicial, not a political, evaluation. Hopefully the days ahead "will reflect more light than heat."
Kennedy: We, er, uh, must determine whether a nominee has a commitment to our basic values. My having chaired Judge Alioto's confirmation hearings to the federal bench in 1990, I'm now "troubled deeply" and "gravely concerned" by the Judge Alioto's judicial record in the years since. Average Americans have a "hard time getting a fair shake" in Judge Alioto's courtroom. Other gripes: Princeton CAP, imperial Presidency, abortion, one person, one vote, civil rights, Vanguard.
Grassley: "I have a much more positive view of Judge Alito and I think the record will sustain my view." [Hip hip!] Democrat Judiciary Committee members have described the ABA rating to be the gold standard. Criticism from liberal activist groups owing to mere political disagreement should be worn as a badge of honor. Justices should not seek to become super-legislators nor to impose views of right and wrong. Judicial restraint is a key ingredient to being a good judge.
Biden: We all act like there's not an elephant in the room. But there is considerable dispute over 5-4 decisions and critical issues of the day. I'm puzzled by some of the things you've said and written. The crux of the debate is whether the Constitution is adaptable. You replacing Justice O'Connor, the first woman nominated to the Court, is not your fault, but it requires looking more closely at your record. "I hope you'll be forthcoming."
Biden then went on to question the intent of the founders and framers, stating in that breathless Biden way that he "can't fathom... can't fathom" that the framers wanted us to know the political opinions of elected officials before electing them, but not of judges before confirming them.
Kyl: The nation owes you gratitude for your service. I look forward to a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Politicians must tell voters what they think before elections. Judges should not.
Kohl: Before we give you the keys to the car, we'd like to know where you plan to take us. It is our job to separate the reality from the rhetoric. We have used the same test for each of the last 5 nominations: judicial excellence.
DeWine: In recent years, judicial restraint has waned. In most cases, you defer to the decision-making of those closest to the issue. This bodes well for democracy. Democracy relies on the will of the people, not the unchecked will of judges.
Feinstein: Because you replace Justice O'Connor... zzzzz. On the machine gun case technicality, you took a position in opposition of the Miller case, affirming Congress's right to regulate interstate firearms trade. Other gripes: abortion, Presidential power, civil rights (reapportionment and affirmative action).
Sessions: You have a record as a brilliant but modest jurist. This is exactly what I believe the American people want and what President Bush promised to nominate. [Senator Sessions then spent a few minutes summarizing Alito's resume.] The ABA's ratings tilt a little to the left, but their process is comprehensive and illustrative to our Committee and to the American people.
Feingold: No one is entitled to a seat on the Supreme Court simply because he is nominated by the President. [It does entitle you to a vote though, doesn't it?] The "shifting explanations" to the Vanguard recusal/non-recusal situation is "troubling". Other gripes: executive power, capital punishment. I expect complete answers and so do my colleagues.
Handcrafted by Flip on January 9, 2006 |
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» The Alito Hearings from Secure Liberty
Judge Alito takes the hot-seat for hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary committee starting today. Gearing up for what many believe will be a much more contentious confirmation hearing than the one held for Chief Justice John Roberts four months a... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 9, 2006 4:34:10 PM