Judge Samuel Alito may not be a full-fledged “going to the matresses” choice by President Bush, but it’s pretty darn close. The good thing about the nomination is that President Bush chose a clear conservative who is undeniably well-qualified. Liberals will not get any easy shots on him. Even the Nation’s David Corn acknowledges:
There is no question that Alito is qualified, in that he has been an assistant solicitor general, a deputy assistant US attorney general, a US attorney and an appeals court judge. He is reputedly intelligent and scholarly. There will be no major disagreement over document releases; there are fifteen years of appeals court decisions for his friends and foes to scrutinize. That leaves the Democrats one avenue of attack: Alito would be bad for America.
Not surprisingly, Democrats and liberal groups have already taken this route, attempting to portray Alito as a radical. As for me, I think that presidents should be allowed to appoint judges as long as they are qualified enough to serve. As Sen McCain put it:
“I’ve always been favorably disposed towards a president’s nominee,” McCain told radio host Don Imus. “I voted for Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer because I think elections have consequences. I didn’t share their judicial philosophy.”
Much of the news coverage on Alito’s nomination has centered on abortion, specifically his dissent in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey spousal notification case that eventually led to the U.S. Supreme Court partially reaffirming Roe v. Wade. In the coming weeks, I’ll be interested in reading more about his past decisions on other issues. What I’ve read so far is encouraging. Here is a list of some of the business- friendly decisions he has made. It is also encouraging that he wrote a dissent arguing that Congress did not have the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate the possession or sale of machine guns. I hope that Alito will be as consistent in his limited view of the commerce clause as Justice Clarence Thomas. When it comes to social issues, Antonin Scalia, to whom Alito owes his moniker, is often willing to allow for a much more expansive view of the constitution, as evidenced by this summer’s Raich medical marijuana decision.
An old profile of Alito by The Legal Intelligencer, which compares and contrasts him with Scalia, is available here. One big difference they cite is temperment, describing Alito as “mild-mannered” and “polite.” If this holds true during the hearings it will make it more difficult for Democrats to portray him as a radical.