Washington Post: Confirm Samuel Alito
The Washington Post editorial board urges the Senate to “Confirm Samuel Alito.”
He would not have been our pick for the high court. Yet Judge Alito should be confirmed, both because of his positive qualities as an appellate judge and because of the dangerous precedent his rejection would set.Though some attacks on him by Democratic senators and liberal interest groups have misrepresented his jurisprudence, Judge Alito’s record is troubling in areas. His generally laudable tendency to defer to elected representatives at the state and federal levels sometimes goes too far — giving rise to concerns that he will prove too tolerant of claims of executive power in the war on terror. He has tended at times to read civil rights statutes and precedents too narrowly. He has shown excessive tolerance for aggressive police and prosecutorial tactics. There is reason to worry that he would curtail abortion rights. And his approach to the balance of power between the federal government and the states, while murky, seems unpromising. Judge Alito’s record is complicated, and one can therefore argue against imputing to him any of these tendencies. Yet he is undeniably a conservative whose presence on the Supreme Court is likely to produce more conservative results than we would like to see.
Which is, of course, just what President Bush promised concerning his judicial appointments. A Supreme Court nomination isn’t a forum to refight a presidential election. The president’s choice is due deference — the same deference that Democratic senators would expect a Republican Senate to accord the well-qualified nominee of a Democratic president.
Update: Their counterparts at the Boston Globe, however, say Alito is “Not fit for the court.”
Amid the torrent of words uttered this week, it was disturbing to note what Alito didn’t say. He did not say that Roe v. Wade was settled law. He would not publicly condemn the odious Concerned Alumni of Princeton club he once claimed fealty to, whether he was an active member or not. He did not say, as Chief Justice John Roberts did in his hearings: ”I am not an ideologue.”
This page supported Roberts’s appointment to the court despite his conservativism because we felt he has a supple mind that can embrace modern ambiguities. We do not have such confidence in the text-obsessed Alito.
It should be remembered that Bush nominated Alito only after his first choice, Harriet Miers, was roundly rejected by extreme conservatives who found her ideology insufficiently pure. These were not people who wanted an independent, open-minded jurist. They have smugly signaled that they approve Bush’s second choice. We can not.
Needless to say, I disagree. Roe v. Wade isn’t settled law; indeed, there have been numerous cases since then on the subject of abortion. Nor is there any reason he should proclaim what his record clearly demonstrates, that he is neither a bigot nor an ideological extremist.