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Kennedy vs. Alito by Proxy (The Vanguard frenzy is much ado about nothing)
National Review ^ | November 15, 2005 | Edward Whelan

Posted on 11/15/2005 4:52:12 PM PST by RWR8189

A curious e-mail is making the rounds from Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy's communications director, Stephanie Cutter, attacking Judge Alito's response last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee's request for more information about Judge Alito's involvement in a case in Vanguard mutual funds was a party in name only. In Monga v. Ottenberg, a bankruptcy receiver sought to have a party's IRA assets (which included funds in a Vanguard account) made available to pay the bankrupt party's creditors. Vanguard was a party to the case because the bankrupt party sued it to prevent it from releasing his IRA funds to his creditors. In other words, Vanguard's only interest in the case was as a third party who held funds belonging to someone else — it was going to make them available either to the creditors or to the bankrupt party, but Vanguard had no interest in the funds. When the case went to the Third Circuit, Judge Alito, who owned some Vanguard mutual funds, joined two of his colleagues in unanimously dismissing the claims of the bankrupt party. In a desperate attempt to get one last bite at the apple, the bankrupt party claimed after the case had been decided that Judge Alito should have recused because he owned some Vanguard mutual funds. Apparently giving the complaint the benefit of the doubt — though there is little question that he was not required to — Judge Alito decided that the case should be reheard by another judge.

So what is all the fuss about? Democrats complain that he should have recused because of his ownership of the mutual funds. It's a silly charge. As several legal ethics experts have stated, Alito had no obligation to recuse because Vanguard didn't stand to benefit financially (or be harmed financially) as a result of the case. Vanguard was going to release the funds to someone; it was just a question of who got them. So Alito had no conflict of interest that required him to recuse. And even if it might appear that he did, he fixed the problem by having it re-argued.

This is much ado about nothing, but that doesn't stop Senator Kennedy. Cutter points to Alito's response to a 1990 questionnaire about recusals where Alito said he would, as an initial matter, recuse in cases involving Vanguard. The Monga case was a decade later though, and had nothing to do with Vanguard's (or Alito's) financial interests. Kennedy's office is more interested in nitpicking the content of a 1990 questionnaire then they are about reading the rules that govern judicial ethics.

What makes the Kennedy e-mail so curious is just how hypocritical it is. Judge Stephen Breyer faced much more serious complaints in his confirmation hearings about his involvement as a judge in more than half a dozen cases that involved insurance underwritten by Lloyd's of London, an insurance syndicate in which he was an investor. As an investor in Lloyd's, Judge Breyer faced potentially unlimited liability for the losses covered by its policies, and many investors were bankrupted by their participation in Lloyd's syndicates. The New York Times labeled Judge Breyer's alleged conflict as "troubling" and a "cloud . . .hanging over his nomination," but guess who was his most ardent defender? Yes, the same Teddy Kennedy, who even got into a heated argument with one of his Democratic colleagues on the committee: "You've asked for my opinion whether Judge Breyer's committed a violation of judicial ethics in investing in Lloyds name and insurance underwriting while being a federal judge. In my opinion, there was no violation of judicial ethics."

Where's that Senator Kennedy today? Hiding behind a staffer's underground e-mail trying to take the legs out from under a nominee who has extraordinary credentials and equally sterling integrity. We're not buying Cutter's bogus charges. Just like Senator Kennedy didn't buy the New York Times's attacks on Justice Breyer. Let it go, Teddy.

Edward Whelan is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and is a regular contributor to NRO's "Bench Memos" blog on judicial nominations.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: alito; breyer; ethics; judgealito; kennedy; samalito; samuelalito; scotus; stephenbreyer; tedkennedy; vanguard

1 posted on 11/15/2005 4:52:14 PM PST by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189

And, in another kennedy related item, I just received this:
"Dear Friend of Air America:

I'm thankful for you.

With your help, voters across America have sent a powerful message to the Bush Administration and their right-wing cronies.

The party's over.

Last Tuesday's sweeping victories for Democrats and progressives pulled back the curtain from the much-vaunted Bush-Cheney-Rove political machine, revealing what Air America listeners have known all along: there's nobody there. After five years of lies, fear-mongering and electoral manipulation, voters from New Jersey to Virginia said, "Enough."

Governor-elect Jon Corzine summed it up succinctly in his acceptance speech: "I want to thank the people of New Jersey for rejecting the Bush-Rove tactics that we see in politics."

And it was more than just the victories in New Jersey and Virginia that sent shockwaves through the Republican establishment. The right-wing agenda took a major hit from voters across the nation last week:

· In St. Paul, Minnesota the incumbent Democratic mayor, who last year endorsed George W. Bush for a second term, was trounced in his own reelection bid by a Democrat who made that endorsement the centerpiece of his campaign.

· In Maine, an effort to repeal a law that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination was defeated

· In Dover, Pennsylvania, all eight of the local school board members who supported the teaching of "intelligent design" were voted out.

But now is not the time to sit back and rest on our victories. Our fight to restore progressive values in America still has a long way to go.

With your support, Air America Radio will remain at the forefront of that fight. There are three ways that you can help right now:

1) Join the Air America community by strongly supporting the AAR Associates campaign by clicking here:

2) If you're listening to Air America Radio on your local station, thank them for carrying your favorite AAR programs.

3) If you don't yet have an Air America Radio affiliate in your area, let us know today.

The biggest obstacle progressives face isn't even the Bush Administration or a Republican-controlled Congress. Our greatest challenge continues to be the stranglehold of the right-wing propaganda machine over our nation's media. Thirty percent of Americans now say that their primary source of news is talk radio. And fully ninety percent of talk radio is dominated by the leading propagandists of the Right: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and their factually-challenged ilk.

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As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, there are strong signs that the right-wing's domination of talk radio is finally coming to an end. And that's something for which we can all be thankful.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

2 posted on 11/15/2005 4:54:57 PM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: RWR8189

Bill sez that ol' bridge is nuthin' to worry about!

3 posted on 11/15/2005 5:00:18 PM PST by devolve (<--- (--------(--do not check out my lame FR home page--)--------)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, there are strong signs that the right-wing's domination of talk radio is finally coming to an end.

No, Bobby you buck-toothed, pink-pantied heir to a bootleggers fortune, you guys can't PAY advertisers to associate their names with that bilge

4 posted on 11/15/2005 5:03:02 PM PST by digger48
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To: RWR8189

Kennedy's declaration of war on Supreme Court nominee Judge Alito is not a surprise. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, "We will go to war over the Supreme Court."

If Democrats lose the war for the Supreme Court they might as well fold their tent, and they know it.

5 posted on 11/15/2005 6:32:36 PM PST by R.W.Ratikal
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To: R.W.Ratikal
Ted Kennedy has made a statement in the last few days -- goes something like ---

Kennedy, in reference to Judge Alito's application to work in President Reagan's Administration, the judge made a comment about abortions, the swimmer in opposing Alito & claims he, Ted, has to stand by what he said in the 1970's (I think 74-75-76) therefor so should Judge Alito stand by his actions in the 80's.

Does anyone have the complete news clip on this?


6 posted on 11/16/2005 10:16:53 PM PST by malia (Marc Rich surfaces again -- this time in the Oil For Food Scandal)
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