It sounds like it is a long way off, but the January confirmation hearings are actually right around the corner. We started a discussion on Alito by the issues here, and will probably pick up on that over the holidays and closer to the New Year, but for now, a quick update. Michael Kinsley in the WaPo brings us this:
The major question for Snowe and other liberal senators actually is not respect for judicial precedents. The major question is abortion. They want to know whether Alito would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade . But by the absurd unwritten rules of these increasingly stylized episodes, they are not allowed to ask him and he is not allowed to answer. So the nominee does a fan dance, tantalizing the audience by revealing little bits of his thinking, but denying us a complete view. And senators pretend, maybe even to themselves, that they really care about precedents and privacy in the abstract.
The artifice can get quite elaborate. Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, makes a half-serious distinction among precedents, super-precedents and super-duper precedents. Others emphasize that social policies can start with a Supreme Court ruling and develop into deeply rooted national values. That happened with Roe and abortion, they would say, while the opposite happened with Bowers and laws against homosexuality. Of course, if a policy really has become a deeply rooted national value, then the once-controversial Supreme Court ruling is superfluous, because democracy will protect such a value. The fear that motivates the Roe panic is that the rights at stake are not deeply rooted. Or not deeply enough.
While Roe defenders play this double game, ostensible Roe opponents, especially those in the White House, may be playing a triple game. Their public position is (a) Roe is a terrible decision, responsible for a vast slaughter of innocents; (b) legal abortion is deeply immoral; and (c) we ignore all this in choosing Supreme Court justices and you ( Roe defenders) should, too.
It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not believable. The natural assumption is that President Bush is trying to con abortion-rights supporters. Only an idiot would squander the opportunity to rid the nation of Roe because of some fatuous nonsense about picking judges without finding out the one thing you most urgently want to know. But Machiavellians of my acquaintance believe that it is the antiabortion folks who are getting conned. The last thing in the world that Republican strategists want is repeal of Roe . If abortion becomes a legislative issue again, all those pro-choice women and men who have been voting Republican because abortion rights were secure would have to reconsider, and many would bolt.
Meanwhile, the reversal of Roe would energize the left the way Roe itself energized the right. Who needs that?
I still don’t understand why the LA Times got rid of Kinsley, who although annoying at times, adds value to any newspaper or magazine he is associated with.
Next on the Alito/Abortion plate, a ramp-up in advertising:
The battle over Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. moved to the nation’s airwaves yesterday, as conservative and liberal groups bought advertising time that could dwarf the meager efforts made in this year’s other two confirmation efforts.
As Alito continued his round of courtesy calls on senators, his critics launched new television ads painting him as a tool of right-wing conservatives. Supporters, meanwhile, announced ads that say his opponents, not Alito, are outside the political mainstream.
The ad buys, as well as the early clashes between the interest groups, are another signal that Alito’s confirmation will be more contentious and hard-fought than was that of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was confirmed in September to replace the late William H. Rehnquist.
Although I do like Kinsley, he is grossly underestimating the concerns by assuming that it’s only about abortion. The bottom line is that one’s position on the issue of privacy has a great deal to do with one’s position on gay rights, Patriot Act provisions, control over one’s personal information, and a host of other issues.
Kinsley should know better than that.
It’s not just about abortion. IT’s about things like the FMLA and so on.
I’m eagerly awaiting the hearings, but I’m becoming increasingly concerned the more I read that Alito is an activist judge.
I agree that he’s an activist, I’d never vote for him to be approved, if left up to me. However, his past is not raising nearly the amount of alarm that makes me believe that anyone is going to raise enough of a fuss about him. I’m finding it quite difficult to believe that he’ll have a chance to enact any of his activist beliefs, given the track record of the current court. But with two virtual “unknowns” in the court, it could prove an interesting few years.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”–Santayama
“Stupidity should HURT.”–me
Pass the popcorn.
Hey, it’s a pro-life christmas this year, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Let the baby jebuses live you whores!!
is there a secret character being added?