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Editorial: Skewering 'Scalito'

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
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The nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court should come as no surprise to the American public. Battered by a bruising series of political defeats last week, President Bush was more than willing to play the role of the prodigal son, offering up an acceptably conservative judge as a mea culpa to the restless religious right.

At first blush, the strategy looks to be a successful one. The cantankerous conservatives who so swiftly derailed the nomination of Harriet Miers have offered nothing short of full-throated support, and Alito has received unequivocal endorsements across the Republican spectrum.

These facts alone should be cause for concern. Indeed, behind Alito's soft-spoken demeanor and "aw, shucks" humility, there exists a deeply conservative intellect that threatens to unsettle an already precarious balance on the Supreme Court.

Alito's tenure as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is instructive.

He ruled against congressional regulation of machine guns, but he found no fault with a religious holiday display in Jersey City. In 2000, Alito found that states were immune from suits under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and just this year, he ruled against a death row inmate who claimed to have received inadequate representation as a defendant.

Perhaps most significantly, he was the lone dissenter in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he articulated the antediluvian argument that requiring abortion patients to notify their spouses did not impose an undue burden on their constitutional right to choice.

Fortunately, in one of those strange twists of judicial irony, Alito's reasoning was rejected by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the justice he hopes to replace in the months to come. And therein lies the problem.

Not even the most optimistic of Democrats were absurd enough to think that Bush would nominate anyone but a conservative to replace O'Connor (who is herself a conservative except with respect to abortion and affirmative action). But faced with a nominee who would most likely overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats would be well served to stand strong.

As with Roberts, the Bush team has proven extraordinarily adept at the mechanics of manipulation, touting Alito's burnished credentials and close community ties in an effort to mask his conservative ideology. Even so, this is no time for Senate Democrats to repeat their lackluster performance from the Roberts hearings.

Research should be thorough, questions should be pointed, and absent a sincere belief that Alito will not overturn important precedent, the option of a filibuster should be given full consideration.

If ever there were a time for the emasculated Democrats to play bare-knuckle politics, this would be it.

Opinions Board

Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield, Katie Paulson and Tim Runestad.

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