On Samuel Alito: Don’t Confirm Him


Much of Washington has been consumed with the coverage of the Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination hearings, and I suppose that I should have been glued to C-Span as well — but I wasn’t.
Instead I have been assembling some of the pieces for the upcoming launch of Bolton Watch and readying myself for a New America Foundation staff retreat.
Nonetheless, I have been hoping that something I saw in the published transcripts of his statements or in other news reports would lessen my profound unease with this appointment.
Alito has been a distinguished conservative judge whose long record of decisions give a clear portrayal of his work and opinions. However, his brand of conservatism should remain in the periphery of our court system and not be allowed to ascend to the highest court in the land.
He is firmly anti-abortion. His mom said so. His record — formal and informal — attests to this. And despite holding views that would roll back a woman’s right to control her reproductive circumstances, he carries a solidly far-right wing sensibility in many other areas, particularly with regard to general egalitarianism in our society and race.
But the clincher is that he is committed to a vision of expansive Executive Branch power in our government at a time when the other branches sorely need to be propped up — and need to get back in the business of curbing Executive authority. Our democracy is in fragile shape on many fronts — and the Courts and Legislature must reassert themselves and end the de facto monarchy America has tripped into.
When John Kerry lost the election, I felt that he had never really made the case to the American people that that election was mostly about the Supreme Court choices the next president would make. Kerry failed to connect on this issue — but the Congress, particularly if Democrats hold mostly together — could conceivably draw some Republican votes from those who know he will undo Roe v. Wade and who are uncomfortable with his strong embrace of unlimited presidential authority.
He is just the wrong guy. When John Roberts was nominated, I endorsed him — much to the consternation of some of my liberal and progressive friends. John Roberts was no John Bolton, whom I opposed in the foreign policy sphere, and Samuel Alito is no John Roberts.
I can’t run this campaign against Alito. Others are working it — but those moderate Republicans, who are pro-choice and minimal government type conservatives, should feel real pain — profound citizen pressure — if they plan to endorse Bush’s choice.
To win this, Alito’s candidacy needs to be killed by freezing moderate Republican votes.

— Steve Clemons