Judge Alito has served with distinction on that court [the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals] for 15 years, and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.Alito himself showed why he was on the short-list of conservatives with his follow-up introduction.
He has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions. This record reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion.
He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people.
Every time that I have entered the courtroom during the past 15 years, I have been mindful of the solemn responsibility that goes with service as a federal judge. Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system.I am happy with Alito nomination, even though I wish he were younger. At 55, he is pushing the envelope of what I would call an effective nomination given that no one knows who may hold the presidency when Alito dies or retires. However, I like everything else. He has been a voice of reason on the liberal 3rd Court. Alito is a family man, so his children will be impacted by his decisions. And as President Bush so emphatically pointed out, Alito has more judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in seven decades.
Many Republicans have already provided press releases supporting Alito. No surprise there, what do you expect them to say? The big surprise with Miers is that Bush's base didn't think she was qualified. I find the response of liberals to be far more enlightening. Many liberals, including Henry Reid, were strong supporters of Miers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has compiled some quotes. I've copied those of influential Democrats.
The nomination of Judge Alito requires an especially long, hard look by the Senate because of what happened last week to Harriet Miers. Conservative activists forced Miers to withdraw from consideration for this same Supreme Court seat because she was not radical enough for them. Now the Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NevWow! Even if I knew absolutely nothing of Alito, the contrast between how the liberals treated the nominations of Miers and Alito is quite illuminating. Any nominee who can instantly reveal such animosity from Senators Reid, Kennedy, and Schumer as well as past and present leaders of very liberal political organizations is doing something right.
Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not strength. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass
President Bush put the demands of his far-right political base above Americans' constitutional rights and legal protections by nominating federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People For the American Way
It is sad that the president felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who would unify us. This controversial nominee, who would make the court less diverse and far more conservative, will get very careful scrutiny from the Senate and from the American people. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY
Now the gauntlet has been, I think, thrown down. It was humiliating, it was degrading and it's a profound and distributing view of Judge Alito that he would uphold spousal notification as he did in the Pennsylvania case, and it raises concerns about his views of women. Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL-Pro Choice America
Alito is the third nominee for Supreme Court Justice O'Conner's seat. The first, Roberts, was appointed as Chief Justice when Rehnquist died. Miers withdrew her nomination after seeing that her nomination was splitting the Republican Party. Alito's nomination may cause a fight between liberals and conservatives in the Senate, but will draw conservatives together again. Assuming we do not find out any negative surprises about Alito, let's help him get confirmed by sending letters to our senators as well as key senators with presidential aspirations. However, after all the obviously delight the Democrats showed when the correctly commented that the Miers nomination was splitting the party, don't forget to enjoy the public display of liberals gnashing their teeth over the nomination of someone who is unlikely to legislate from the bench.
Miers' withdrawal from consideration has given Bush another chance. I hope he'll nominate a strong nominee with an established constitutional philosophy. I hope he'll nominate a person who understands the role of a judge is that of an umpire, not a player. I hope he'll nominate a person who is in good health and under 50 years-of-age who will be around to protect the rights of Americans for decades to come.
The GoodI find it refreshing that Ms. Miers is not a typical nominee. Unlike most leaders in Washington, whether executive, legislative, or judicial, Miers can hardly be called an elitist who went to a politically correct university. She went to Southern Methodist University where she earned a bachelor's in math before going on to pick up her law degree. SMU is a solid university, neither exceptionally great nor exceptionally poor.
I also see the advantages in appointing a non-judge to the Supreme Court. One of the problems with our current crop of legislators is that too many of them are lawyers. In a country that almost worships diversity, we certainly do not have a diverse set of skills in Congress. The Supreme Court does not need as much diversity as the Legislative branch, but some diversity is a good thing. This is hardly a novel opinion. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist strongly held this opinion as well as many others. Among this number are a fair number of presidents who previously nominated others without judicial experience.
From most accounts, Ms. Miers is a strict constitutionalist. This should please all except those on the left who depend upon judicial activist to create laws that would never be approved by legislators seeking reelection. Despite my knee-jerk cynicism that springs forth whenever a politician says Trust me, I do trust and believe the President Bush has nominated someone who he believes will be a thoughtful and solid conservative vote. Bush has known Miers for decades and she is an evangelical Christian. As such, it is reasonable to assume she will do her best to interpret the constitution as it was written. If confirmed, I expect she would do a good job – hopefully better than some of the nominations of President Bush, Sr. (Souter) and President Reagan (O'Conner, Kennedy).
The BadShe is sixty years old. As long as these are lifetime appointments, why not pick someone between 45 and 50 years of age? No one knows what the future holds, but the odds are that someone 10- to 15-years younger than Miers will live 10- to 15-years longer than Miers. Since no one knows what party will hold the presidency in the future, the smart play is to pick a younger judge.
Miers has never married and never had kids. I like to tease my wife (a staunch Republican vs. my conservative independence) that women are the reason why Clinton was twice elected president. In general, men are more politically conservative than women. However when you look at the details, you learn that men tend to more conservative than single women. Married women, slowly change from liberal voters to conservative voters. This metamorphosis from a liberal caterpillar to a conservative butterfly is accelerated with kids. Miers has never had this experience. Perhaps I'm overstating the case, but I would feel better about this nomination if Miers had children who would have to live with the consequences of her decisions.
However, neither Miers' age nor her spinsterhood bother me nearly as much as President Bush refusing another chance to fight for what is right. I understand that he may not have faith in some senators to support him if he nominated a conservative lightening rod. However, he should have tried first and then nominate a stealth candidate if he failed. But we elected conservatives to fight for us, not give up without a try. In addition, this was just bad politics. If Bush had nominated a very conservative judge, he would have encouraged his base and divided the Democrats. Instead, by attempting to avoid a fight with the Democrats, he inadvertently picked a fight with his base and encouraged his political enemies. This is no exaggeration – if anything, I grossly understate the case. For example, the Wall Street Journal's conservative columnists have been blasting the Miers nomination for two weeks. Now other conservatives are returning fire at the "elite" at the WSJ. These comments, published at the WSJ, are obviously more polite than the discussions going on in the blogosphere. The Democrats must be laughing themselves silly over the Republican infighting as they wonder how many Senate seats they might win in 2006 as disgruntled Republicans stay home.
I am also concerned that we have to depend upon President Bush's judgment without a supporting and consistent paper trail to support Bush's opinion. As I stated earlier, I believe Bush has the best intentions, but he is as human (flawed) as the rest of us and I fear he may be making a mistake here. We should not have to trust that Bush is making the right decision, we should be able to look at the nominee's record and easily draw our own conclusions.
The UglyThis nomination is cronyism by any definition of the term. We should not be surprised by this human behavior as the ability to reward friends is one of the reasons why people are attracted to politics. However, no matter how many politicians do this, it is not right. The best person for the job should be nominated, not the person with the best connection to the president. This problem may be slightly mitigated by Bush's concern that he not accidentally appoint a left-wing liberal. After all, after decades of working together Bush should know how Miers thinks. This does not make cronyism right, but I can understand Bush privately deciding this is the lesser of two evils.
The ugliest part of nominating Miers is the disincentive it sends to brilliant conservatives to be honest. Bush is sending a clear message to all brilliant legal conservatives who have any ambition to be considered for the Supreme Court that they had better hide their true feelings for decades. Even Roberts, an undisputedly brilliant legal scholar, did not have the conservative paper trail of his equally brilliant conservatives contemporaries who have more openly stated their beliefs (or perhaps have simply had years of judicial experience in which their views have become obvious). It seems clear that Bush is not willing to pick a conservative with established credentials.
Bush's refusal to engage in an open fight with liberals over the role of the Supreme Court seems cowardly, unfair, and harmful. Bush's refusal to nominate an established conservative avoided a fight with the liberal wing of the Democratic party has caused a major rift within his own party (and Bush's misreading of how this situation would unfold is another sign of the problems he is having). This is unfair to the conservatives who have worked for decades to build a majority in the Senate, the House, and elect a Republican president so the courts could be brought under control. This is unfair to the left, who deserves an honest look at the nomination even if they would oppose it. Hopefully, Bush will withdraw the nomination (or use a face-saving gesture and change her nomination to that of a lesser court to give Miers some judicial experience). Otherwise, many of us conservatives will be twisting in the wind, wondering if we should ask our senators to support or oppose the nomination. I am trying to keep an open mind about Miers until I see what she says at the confirmation hearings. However, unless she changes my current leanings, I will probably be writing my senators and asking them to vote no on Miers.