Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Senate Judiciary Committee At Mid Morning

Quick thoughts on the morning's proceedings so far:

Specter focused mainly on abortion rights and choice, asking Alito if he stands by what he said in 1985 about abortion not being a Constitutional right.

Alito said he made those statements "...from my vantage point in 1985 as a line attorney in the Justice Department of the Reagan administration" and said he has an "open mind" despite what he said in 1985 when he was in a "different role."

But he also admitted that it was his personal opinion at the time of the1985 memo that overturning Roe v. Wade would be the right thing to do.

Just wonderful.

Patrick Leahy spent most of his time trying to get to the bottom of Alito's feelings about Bush being immune from laws such as anti-torture legislation or having the ability to immunize others from such legislation – and could not get a declarative answer out of Alito.

Leahy only heard how Alito would "have to know the specifics" of such cases before he could answer. Fair enough for any judge to say that but no matter how hard Leahy tried to get a straightforward answer out of Alito, it just wasn't happening.

The Vermont Senator even drilled down to a simple question of murder and whether or not the White House had the authority to call in a hit on someone – Leahy wasn't suggesting Bush would do this, he was just scraping to get a straight answer -- and Alito could only mumble something about how he would have to view things on a case-by-case basis and reaffirming that nobody is above the law.

Leahy then asked him about his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) – which Alito proudly lists on his resume – given that this organization was at the forefront of limiting the number of women and minorities admitted to the New Jersey university.

Alito pretty much acted like he wasn't aware of the organization's activities, even though they were very well publicized at the time.

“The question for senators to consider – and to ask – is why Samuel Alito would brag about his membership in an organization known for its fervent hostility to the inclusion of women and minorities at Princeton,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas recently. “What does it tell us about his approach to issues like equal opportunity? Even a preliminary review of CAP’s history demonstrates that it waged a campaign to turn back the clock at Princeton with ferocious zeal. If Alito were to bring CAP’s values to the Supreme Court, he would help turn back the clock in America.”

It's a good thing for Alito that Orrin Hatch was up next.

Right when I thought Hatch was going to fumble to fill his time, he actually asked a couple of questions – well, kind of.

"You were not a [CAP] founding member? Not a board member? Not an active member?" Hatched asked, in an effort to defuse Leahy's previous line of questioning. Then Hatch threw the real softball: "Are you against women and minorities attending college?"

Surprisingly enough, Alito affirmed the right of women and minorities to go to college.

Glad we got that resolved.

More later...