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Scalito Hearings Start: What Have We Learned?
Author: Steven Shelton (12:37 pm)
Well, the Alito hearings have opened today. The first day will bring nothing worth talking about; the Senators will all stake out their predictable positions--the Republicans claiming that anything negative said about the guy is someow an affront to the "dignity" of the process, and the Democrats warning Alito that if he doesn't answer his questions with candor that they'll vote against him (which most will probably do anyway)--and Alito will try to present himself as a reasonable moderate who is shocked--SHOCKED--that anyone could oppose him.
So, in that vein, let's review what we know about Scalito:
- He saw no problem with requiring a woman to inform her husband if she wanted to get an abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, claiming that this did not violate her expectation of privacy. I don't know about you, but I'd be a bit offended if someone said I had to get a note from my wife to have surgery. And let's not forget that it would be pretty strange for a woman to do something as radical as obtain an abortion without consulting her husband unless there was a real reason, such as domestic abuse, for her to avoid this kind of conversation.
- He said, in as many words, that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion” in 1985. The Republicans are trying to spin this, of course, claiming that "he was a government lawyer working for a President who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nonetheless, unlike many other lawyers working in the Solicitor General's office, he urged the government NOT to mount ‘a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade,’ but, instead, to adopt a more moderate course to ‘nudge the Court toward the principles in Justice O'Connor's’ opinions." Well, that's true of one of Scalito's writing on this subject. It doesn't pass muster, though, when you realize that on a job application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Ed Meese (that same year) he wrote those same words--“the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion”--going out of his way to note “I personally believe very strongly” that this is the case. Naturally, there's spin for that, too: bear witness to Sen. Sam "If Harriet Miers thinks Roe is settled law I'll vote against her" Brownback on the ABC program This Week: "Things do change, and positions change. He’s advocating for a position in a conservative administration at that time. Now he’s going on the Supreme Court of the United States if approved by the United States Senate. And these are different jobs altogether, and they have different parameters with them all together. And he’s not going to answer questions about how he’s going to rule on a Roe-type case, and he shouldn’t." So Sam's spin is that his personal views change depending on who he wants to hire him, and that this is a good thing? Even the spin doesn't seem very favorable.
- He proudly touted his membership in the "Concerned Alumini of Princeton" when applying for a job in the Reagan administration. This was a John-Birch-Societyesque organization largely devoted to opposing the presence of women and minority students at Princeton. Of course, now he claims he doesn't remember being a member. But he remembered it clearly enough to highlight it in his job application when he wanted to work for the Reagan administration. Folks, if I joined a group that was opposed to someone going to my school on the basis of their gender or ethnicity, I think I'd remember it. Wouldn't you?
- He apparently doesn't really think anyone should be able to sue to enforce anti-trust legislation. This is not too surprising, considering that conservatives tend to support the free market to the extent that everyone is free to shop only at their market.
- He thinks that saying an employment candidate is the "best candidate for the job" is a complete bar to race discrimination suits, even if one of the qualifications decided on by the employer was "no blacks."
- Scalito agreed that it was perfectly fine for police to strip-search a woman and her ten-year-old daughter when executing a warrant that allowed for the search of a man's person and home. Alito (who was, thank God, dissenting) wrote that this was the "'commonsense and realistic' reading of the warrant", even though the police who filled out the warrant "did not note in the box in question that the warrant authorized a search of all occupants of the premises." Of course, there's a right-wing spin to this too: "to lessen the outrage, you should know that the search was done privately, in an upstairs bathroom, by a female police officer, brought in to the drug raid for just that purpose." Oh, well, then, that makes everything alright, doesn't it? I mean, who cares if the police actually had established probable cause to strip-search a 10-year-old girl as long as they did it in private.
So if you want to know how I feel about the Alito nomination, you can probably guess: the guy should not be on the Court, and the Democrats would be perfectly justified in filibustering this one. He's got to go.
Nevertheless, he probably will be confirmed unless there's enough attention paid to him by the mainstream of America. And, just to be sure, Republican evangelicals are "blessing" the seats where the people involved in the hearings will sit, because, after all, they may not be on God's side, but the Republicans are sure as hell going to make sure that God is on their side. Makes me curious as to whether all that oil means there will be a big wet spot on Scalito's ass when he stands up from the hearing seat.
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