Skip to comments.Samuel Alito May Surprise at Nomination Hearings
Posted on 01/02/2006 10:20:03 AM PST by wagglebee
As Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito prepares for testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, supporters and independent media organizations say he might not be exactly what the American public expects.
Supporters are downplaying Alito's presentation skills, saying he is not nearly as polished as newly-confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts. Meanwhile, the Washington Post claims that Alito's judicial record defies convenient stereotype.
Supporters say Alito will benefit from his lack of polish. One participant in Alito's mock hearings told the New York Times that Alito's rough edges would appeal to average Americans.
He painted a less than flattering portrait of Alito's style.
"He will have a couple of hairs out of place," the unnamed participant said. "I am not sure his glasses fit his facial features. He might not wear the right color tie. He won't be tanned. He will look like his is from New Jersey, because he is."
But, the anonymous tipster thinks those are good things.
"That is a very useful look," he continued, "because it is a natural look. He's able to go toe-to-toe with senators, and at the same time he could be your son's Little League coach."
At the same time, the Washington Post analysis reveals that Alito's opponents will have difficulty portraying him as an ideologue.
Instead, according to the Post, "Alito takes consistently restrictive stances on some social issues and criminals' rights but does not differ substantially from the typical judge in other areas."
Perhaps more importantly, the Post concludes that Alito's opinions as a federal judge were rarely ideologically driven.
"Overall," the Post writes, "the opinions Alito wrote are largely devoid of impassioned rhetoric or broad philosophic assertions. He grounds his views in close readings of legal precedents, statutes and government regulations."
Despite his lack of ideological flair, Alito might not be a passive witness before the Judiciary Committee.
The Times' anonymous tipster said Alito challenged role-playing attorneys in his mock hearings often volleying questions back to the would-be senators. Alito purportedly stumped the would-be senators a few times with his return questions.
The tipster said Alito could pose a serious challenge to real-life senators reading from talking points memos prepared by staff. Some opponents hope Alito will become combative.
Senator Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) dismissed the idea that Alito might turn the tables on his inquisitors.
"That may be the advice someone gave Robert Bork," Schumer told the Times. Bork, rejected as a Supreme Court nominee in 1987, has the unenviable honor of having his name converted to a verb borked that describes the blocking of a Supreme Court nominee by his political and ideological foes.
Schumer and his Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee have promised a difficult hearing for Alito.
But participants in the mock hearings told the Times they are convinced Alito can handle any topic. They say he understands the Constitution as well as Chief Justice Roberts and is capable of speaking at-length extemporaneously on constitutional jurisprudence.
They also said Alito would likely downplay memos he wrote while in the Reagan Justice Department, but would stop short of repudiation.
He will likely argue that his role in the Justice Department was as an advocate for the Reagan administration, and that the views expressed in the memos do not necessarily reflect his own personal beliefs.
It is the same argument that was made by Clinton-appointed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Alito hearings are scheduled to begin Jan. 9 with a committee vote planned for January 17. The full Senate is expected to vote Jan. 20 on the nomination.
People who know about horses might notice that it appears her stirrups are set wrong - too long. At least it looks that way, if you look at her left boot.
Either she doesn't know much about riding, or someone else saddled the horse and adjusted the stirrups for her.
As much as I appreciate your knowledge of equestrian riding style, I wasn't looking at the stirrups.
Right....I'll be sure to check it out after I'm done drooling on my keyboard.
29. Judicial Activism: Please discuss your views on the following criticism involving "judicial activism."
The role of the Federal judiciary within the Federal government, and within society, generally, has become the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. It has become the target of both popular and academic criticism that alleges that the judicial branch has usurped many of the prerogatives of other branches and levels of government. Some of the characteristics of this "judicial activism" have been said to include:
- a tendency by the judiciary toward problem-solution rather than grievanceresolution;
- a tendency by the judiciary to employ the individual plaintiff as a vehicle for the imposition of far-reaching orders extending to broad classes of individuals;
- a tendency by the judiciary to impose broad, affirmative duties upon governments and society;
- a tendency by the judiciary toward loosening jurisdictional requirements such as standing and ripeness; and
- a tendency by the judiciary to impose itself upon other institutions in the manner of an administrator with continuing oversight responsibilities.
The Constitution sets forth a limited role for the judicial branch. As the question notes, in recent years there have been charges that the federal judiciary has exceeded the proper bounds of judicial authority through court decisions. My experience has taught me that any such criticism should be informed by a balanced understanding of the role that the federal courts should play.
The Constitution charges the federal courts with the duty to exercise "[t]he judicial Power of the United States," Art. III, sec.1, and as Alexander Hamilton aptly put it in Federalist 78, the courts should carry out that role with "firmness and independence." "Without this," he observed, "all the reservations of particular rights or privileges [in the Constitution] would amount to nothing." But while the federal courts should act firmly and independently within their proper sphere, they must always keep in mind that their proper sphere is circumscribed. The "judicial Power" is distinct from the "legislative Powers" given to Congress and from "the executive Power," and the federal courts must engage in a constant process of self-discipline to ensure that they respect the limits of their authority.
Judicial self-discipline is especially important when federal courts are interpreting the Constitution. In non-constitutional cases, the political branches can check what they perceive to be erroneous judicial decisions by enacting corrective legislation. Decisions based on an interpretation of the Constitution, by contrast, cannot be checked in this manner, and a thoughtful appreciation of the nature and essential limits of the judicial function is therefore acutely necessary to protect the democratic values that underlie our Constitution.
Article III of the Constitution, which is the source of the federal courts' power, simultaneously limits that power. Most importantly, Article III, section 2 restricts the jurisdiction of the federal courts to actual "Cases" and "Controversies," and this limitation necessarily means that the federal courts lack jurisdiction unless the constitutional elements of "standing" and "ripeness" are met. These elements serve to ensure that the federal courts stay within the role that courts have traditionally performed and that they are trained and equipped to perform entertaining and adjudicating real disputes that are brought before them by real parties. By restraining the courts from reaching out to decide abstract issues and nascent disputes that may not need judicial resolution, these doctrines promote better decision making, serve democratic values, and work to prevent clashes with the authority of Congress and the Executive by reserving to the political process issues that rightly belong there. In recent decades, Supreme Court decisions have stressed the importance of these constitutional restrictions on the power of the federal courts, and as a judge of the court of appeals I have applied these precedents.
Other valuable statutory and judge-made limitations on the exercise of judicial power serve similar purposes. These limitations include prudential standing and ripeness requirements, statutory and non-statutory limitations on the scope of review that courts may properly exercise in particular contexts, and the doctrine of stare decisis, which supplies essential stability to the law and is a fundamental feature of our legal system. My experience as a court of appeals judge for the past 15 years has fortified my appreciation of the value of these important limitations.
A criticism of the federal courts cited in the question concerns the overreaching in crafting and implementing remedies, an area that highlights the tension between the federal courts' obligation to discharge their proper role firmly and independently and the need to avoid inappropriate encroachment on the authority of other government institutions. When a constitutional or statutory violation has been proven, a court should not hesitate to impose a strong and lawful remedy if that is what is needed to provide full redress. Some of the finest chapters in the history of the federal courts have been written when federal judges, despite resistance, have steadfastly enforced remedies for deeply rooted constitutional violations. At the same time, however, judges must always be sensitive to the need to avoid unnecessary interference with the authority and competence of the political branches. In addition, courts should recognize that their legitimacy is tested when they undertake in the remedial context to perform functions that are ordinarily the province of the political branches.
A paradox is inherent in our constitutional structure. The framers of the Constitution generally did not think that government institutions and actors could be trusted to refrain from unduly extending their own powers, but our constitutional system relies heavily on the judiciary to restrain itself. To do this, judges must engage in a continual process of self-questioning about the way in which they are performing the responsibilities of their offices. Judges must also have faith that the cause of justice in the long run is best served if they scrupulously heed the limits of their role rather than transgressing those limits in an effort to achieve a desired result in a particular case. Judges must maintain a deep respect for the authority of the other branches of government based on their democratic legitimacy and a keen appreciation of the comparative advantages that other government institutions and actors have in making empirical judgments, devising comprehensive solutions for social problems, and administering complex programs and institutions. In addition, judges must be appropriately modest in their estimation of their own abilities; they must respect the judgments reached by predecessors; and they must be sensibly cautious about the scope of their decisions. And judges should do all these things without shirking their duty to say what the law is and to carry out their proper role with energy and independence
I second that. IMO the mess the MSM and Loony left have created with their treasonous activities have made any RAT with a brain in their head knows the SCOTUS is the last place they can still control. The moderate RATs know they don't stand a chance of winning anything in '06 so it is mandatory they keep control of the liberal SCOTUS.
Wow, I'm impressed. Thus far I STILL haven't seen the typical FR comments railing against the GOP for being "too soft" at a time when we need to present a united front against the libs. How long will it last?
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