One day after Samuel Alito’s official swearing in as the newest Supreme Court Justice, Alito did exactly what Senate Democrats and critics said he would never do, stick up for “the little guy.” It was Dana Milbank of the Washington Post who noted that:
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), hosting a morning roundtable with reporters, had nothing nice to say about Alito. “We here in the United States are not going to stand for monarchial tyranny,” he said, protesting Alito’s support for “unfettered, unlimited power of the executive.” He faulted Alito for belonging to a group that was “anti-black and also anti-women.” Kennedy wondered if “the average person is going to be able to get a fair shake” under Alito. [emphasis mine]
A similar sentiment was echoed over and over during the Alito hearings. “Alito is a man,” they kept saying, “who does not care about the ‘little guy,’” so to speak. And yet, which way did Alito vote in regards to his first case as a USSC Justice? Read for yourself:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — In his first day on the job, Justice Samuel Alito broke ranks Wednesday night with the Supreme Court’s conservatives by refusing to allow Missouri to execute death-row inmate Michael Taylor.
Alito sided with five other liberal and moderate justices in rejecting a second request to allow the state of Missouri to execute Taylor.
The justices voted 6-3 Wednesday night to turn down the last-minute request for a midnight execution. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported allowing the execution to proceed.
Now, the tone of most reports made by the media was that Alito had somehow voted to stop the execution. That is not the case. Rather, he voted against the nullification of a lower court decision which put a stay on the execution in the first place.
So, what are the implications of this interesting vote? I have no idea.
But I do know this. If you think that, somehow, Alito is a closet liberal who just outed himself, I think you’re in for a big surprise. After 15 years on an Appellate bench, Alito has a very clear track record of judicial conservatism.
And speaking of his old appellate job, Paul, from Powerlineblog.com reported this earlier today:
Yesterday, the Third Circuit issued three opinions written by Judge (now Justice) Alito. In one of them, Jensen v. Potter, the court reinstated a female postal worker’s claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. The district court had tossed the case out on summary judgment, but a unanimous Third Circuit reversed. Thus, the alleged victim will have her day in court.
I’m sorry, wasn’t Alito the man who was going to single-handedly destroy the rights of the common man here in the US?
Hmmm… I wonder. Maybe, all that stuff Senator Kennedy was spouting off before, during, and after the confirmation hearings was just a load of bull?
Still, I do wonder that very few others have taken note of this angle. In voting mostly along party lines when it came to Alito’s appointment, Democrats showed an extreme partisan streak that may well hurt them in the upcoming election cycle. Their primary excuse for this strong vote against Alito was based on their assertion that he does not seem overly focused on individual rights.
But we all know that, truly, this was just a cover story. It was all a way of saying without saying that the real concern has nothing to do with his rulings related to individual rights and everything to do with the possibility that he might one day rule against the Roe vs. Wade precedent.
All of the efforts made by Senate Democrats to “Bork” Alito flowed out of his possible stance against Roe vs. Wade. The same Democrats who used to complain, while Clinton was in office, that using a single issue as a “litmus test” for ANY federal judges was inappropriate have been, for the the past few years, doing exactly that.
Finally, everyone should understand that Senator Kerry’s last minute filibuster attempt, which failed miserably, was pre-planned from the start. Senate Democrats tried to “Bork” Alito, gave it their all, even managed to drive Alito’s wife to tears in their efforts to publicly smear him. But they never even came close to slowing down his nomination.
At the same time, angry-leftists were literally SCREAMING in frustration at Democrats, saying — unfairly in my opinion — that Senate Dems had not done nearly enough to hurt Alito and insisted that Alito be filibustered. But Senate Dems knew for sure that, were they to try a filibuster, Republicans would use the so-called “nuclear” option, change the rules, and permanently eliminate this as an option for future federal judges.
So, what to do? They failed to even slow the nomination process for Alito, but a portion of their base that will be needed to help fund campaigns in 2006 and 2008 were threatening to pull their support. They couldn’t filibuster without losing that option forever, but NOT using the option would mean a financial loss at a time where DNC funds were at a critically low level.
The solution, if you ask me, was ingenious. Democrats let the process get far enough along to allow Senate Dems time to declare their support for, or opposition to Alito in the upcoming vote, then, on the day of the vote, they try a last-minute, poorly coordinated filibuster, guaranteed to fail.
But, at least now Senate Dems like Kennedy and Kerry can say they did everything they could to stop Alito’s confirmation, hopefully preserving the much needed support of groups such as MoveOn.org.
Yeah, I know, it sounds very conspiritorial. Really, though, it’s a reasonable move, all things considered. Senate Dems really did give this their all, sinking to new lows, if you ask me, in their attempts to tar someone who had the enthusiastic support of both liberal and conservative judges, the ABA’s highest rating, and extensive knowledge and experience.
Life in Washington truly is more interesting than fiction.