The Conservative Chattering Class and Alito
I have been watching the confirmation process surrounding Judge Samuel Alito with great interest. The politics and dynamics are just fascinating – particularly when you contrast the whole thing with the way Harriet Miers was treated.
I am especially interested in the way the pack of conservative leaders have responded differently to Alito – and have willingly overlooked a series of signs and omens which ought to cause at least some concern. Yet our leaders have remained steadfast in their support of Alito. I’m not saying that they are wrong – in fact, we have no choice but to support President Bush – but it is a very curious thing that questions continue to arise about Alito. But no one on our side is really asking.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Sen. Chuck Schumer came out the other day and offered some positive comments about Alito after a private meeting. And then another pro-abort Democrat, Joe Lieberman, came out and said he believed Alito understood and respected the right to privacy in the Constitution. That is the lynch pin of the whole abortion debate. In fact, there have been several comments made suggesting that Alito would be unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed.
But what criticism or skeptical questions have been raised by those who so crucified Harriet Miers? Nary a word.
And then there is the case of Sen. Sam Brownback, a pro-Life Republican. Senator Brownback met with Alito and said he is very comfortable with the new nominee – and likes him because he has a long judicial track record. What is very curious here is the fact that in 3-of-4 abortion cases in which Alito has written opinions – he has sided with the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion precedent. Where is the cause for celebration in this track record?
Of course, Alito’s defenders would insist that in those cases, Alito was bound by Supreme Court precedent. Without the principle of precedent – our court system would be even more chaotic than it is already. So perhaps this view is correct. But my point is that, for all the “track record” present, we really don’t know much more about Alito’s views than we did in the Miers case.
I guess our talking heads share something with the liberal pundits: there is a certain pack dynamic which sometimes does harm.