Friday, November 04, 2005

The Alito Confirmation

Ok. Ok. After a long absence, I have decided to start offering my unsolicited opinion of the news of the day once again.

During my absence I have failed to comment on what passed for news this summer: Hurricane Katrina, Leak-gate, the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Meiers. I, for one, am grateful. While I do have an opinion on all these topics, most of them bored me to tears.

So, let's skip all that crap and get to a really good story - the President's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

First, let me backtrack a bit and say that I was profoundly disappointed with President Bush's nomination of Ms. Meiers. As some pundit or other pointed out, I am sure she is an able attorney but was she really the best person the President could find? Not by a longshot. In fact when I first heard the name of the nominee my first reaction was, "Who?" (And being a political geek I knew many of the names on the so-called "short lists" - Lutig, McConnell, Wilkinson, Alito, and Garza, to name a few - and Meiers' name was nowhere to be found.)

I am much more enthusiastic about the nomination of Judge Alito (or "Scalito" as he has been dubbed for the resemblance his judicial philosophy shares with that of Antonin Scalia's - a facile comparison).

First, he possesses the sterling academic credentials we have come to expect of a Supreme Court justice (Princeton undergrad, Yale law, editor of the Yale Law Review). While earning a law degree from SMU is nothing to sneeze at, it hardly carries the same weight as a degree from a more prestigious institution.

Second, he has experience as a federal prosecutor. Alito served four years as the Assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey during which he prosecuted organized crime figures. He then spent four years as the assistant to the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice. Later, he returned to New Jersey as United States Attorney. Ms. Meiers had no such experience as a government lawyer. Outside of her experience as White Counsel, all Ms. Meiers' experience was in the private sector.

Third, he has 15 years experience as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This was probably the most damning criticism of Ms. Meiers. She had no experience as a judge at any level. Never having been a judge, Ms. Meiers had no "paper trail". Judge Alito, on the other hand, has written more than 700 opinions on many of the top issues of the day: abortion, federalism, sexual harassment, and discrimination to name a few. The left will not be able to criticize Alito for a lack of a paper trail.

Of course, criticize him the Left will. One argument is sure to be that he is more conservative than the Justice he is replacing. This is preposterous as if the ideological composition of the Supreme Court is some kind of zero-sum game. This argument is also baldly disingenuous since no Democrat proffered this as a reason for voting against Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is clearly more liberal than Justice Byron "Whizzer" White, whom she replaced.

The rest of the Left's criticisms will be of the pedestrian, "he's-an-extremist" variety which can (and should) be easily dismissed.

I have already written Sens. Allen and Warner urging them to vote to confirm Judge Alito. You should, too!

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