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Thursday, January 12, 2006


Democrats Have All the Ammo They Need, If They Choose to Use It

As the Alito hearings reach day 4, so far no revelation has emerged that will sink his nomination, at least in the eyes of Democrats like Dianne Feinstein. The Democrats may have just decided that they don't want to attempt a filibuster because then Bill Frist will make good on his promise to eliminate it for good. On the other hand, if we have the power to filibuster but never use it, it's as good as dead. Two incidents in Judge Alito's past make him unfit for the Supreme Court and should be used as a basis for a filibuster:

1. Alito Explicitly Admitted that He Believes No Constitutional Right to Abortion Exists

In a 1985 "Personal Qualifications Statement" that Alito submitted as part of a job interview for Ronald Reagan's Solicitor General office, Alito wrote the following:

Most recently it has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion.

The right-wing's lie machine is on overload regarding this statement. First, they claim it was part of his job to support the administration's policies. But he didn't have the job yet and he didn't have to mention this as some sort of "personal qualification." Second, and more importantly, Alito was not giving a personal opinion. The key word in his statement "legal" positions, not personal ones. Supreme Court Justices do not have personal opinions on constitutional issues. Here's an example that makes it painfully obvious. My personal opinion may be that abortion is immoral, but I might feel the constitution requires choice. My personal opinion may be that the death penalty is evil, but I might feel the constitution fails to forbid it. But one cannot have the personal opinion that the Constitution doesn't protect abortion, but feel that the Constitution does protect abortion. Alito expressly gave a constitutional opinion, not a personal opinion.

As an accomplished 34 year old, Alito should have known that this constitutional opinion would be known to the entire world forever. Perhaps in the midst of the Regan Revolution Alito thought that his interpretation would win him points. History, however, has shown the anti-choice crowd to be a distinct minority in the United States. As such, Alito should have to pay the price for his opinion and be filibustered. He's a lock to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the choice and that constitutes extreme judicial activism of the highest order.

2. Alito's membership in the Racist Organization "CAP"

In 1972, Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) was formed as a classic old, rich, white boys network. It's main purpose was to discourage the admission of women and minorities, hence the name "Concerned". CAP's magazine, Prospect, contained some of the following hate:
"the makeup of the Princeton student body has changed drastically for the worse" "Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."

The second comment was written in 1983 when Dinesh D'Souza, a well-known conservative liar and racist, was in charge of Prospect. Just 2 years later, Alito boasted about his membership in CAP in his hateful job application with Ronald Reagan. (Sidenote: It's almost like trying to join the mob. He had to brag about how many guys he's killed, which in this case is memberships in right-wing hate groups like CAP and the Federalist Society.) Most important, he touted his membership 13 years after graduating. Although he had an entire adult life to build new connections after school, his longtime membership in CAP indicates that it was of some importance to him. If he "could not recall" it, he wouldn't have been putting on his resume for over 13 years. It's just not plausible.

But that's the crock of shit lie that Alito and his right-wing cronies want you to believe. Alito claims he cannot recall membership in CAP. Circumstantial evidence proves this to be a lie and prevaricators have no place on this nation's highest court. Worse yet, CAP is committed to fighting the goals of Equal Protection and the fundamental rights that are essential to the Constitution.


Another scandal is his decision to rule in the Vanguard case even though he explicitly promised not to years before. In my opinion, however, conflicts of this sort are 1) unavoidable, since both Scalia and Ginsburg do it all the time, and 2) petty, at least in a Constitutional sense.

The issues of the Right to Choose and Equal Protection mean so much more to the debate. Americans are highly concerned about freedom of choice and equality of people across race and sex. Membership in a racial or sexist hate group should preclude entry onto this nation's highest court no matter your sorry excuse for joining. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Democrats will filibuster. They talk of "concern" and "alarm" instead of anger and outrage. They talk of the Vanguard scandal instead of Alito's amazingly dumb admissions regarding his constitutional view of abortion. They talk of "thumbs up or down" votes instead of using the power they have to protect our Constitution from those who wish to destroy it.

Hope is not lost; even Corporate Tool Joe Lieberman hasn't publicly taken filibuster off the table. But knowing the Democrats in the Senate like I do, don't expect any brave stances. They'll sign off on Alito and then shrug their shoulders when young girls are dying in alleys from coat hanger abortions.

Comments on ""


Anonymous Tom said ... (12:02 PM) : 

Accusing Alito for being a member of CAP is not usefull unless Alito knew of those isolated hateful comments, and continued to support CAP. He claims he didn't know of the hateful comments and was interested in the organization to oppose the school disbanding the ROTC.
To blame Alito for comments one member of an organization (that he has loose ties to) made is guilt by association (reminescent of Stalin).

If one were a member of a international legal fraternity for example, and one of the members wrote an innapropriate article in their publication, should all members be associated with that view regardless of their knowledge of it?

Furthermore, what is your basis for calling the Federalist Society a hateful organizaztion? Many of our Supreme Court justices are members of the group. I believe you are overreaching on this one my friend, and am afraid that you will claim any conservative group is hateful. I watched the Alito hearings when Kennedy was trying to accuse Alito of guilt by association in CAP and found it very unamerican, how desperate have the democrats become?


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (12:38 PM) : 

First, CAP's main goal was to keep women and minorities out of Princeton. It did not serve any legitimate purpose. Therefore, membership in the organization is a basis for criticism. I don't hold Alito to the precise words of the articles, but I do hold him to the primary goal of the organization; the articles just provide examples.
Just like membership in the KKK, guilt by association is appropriate when you were part of a group whose main purpose was spreading hate. Kennedy was absolutely right to call Alito out in such a manner.

Second, he did not have "loose ties" to CAP. When you put something on your resume for 13 years, that means you feel strongly about it. Most things don't survive a resume after a year or two; standard practice is to leave out any old affiliations because your resume is not a history book, it's an example of who you are now. The ROTC excuse just doesn't hold water because that wasn't the group's main goal. He put it on his resume for so long because it obviously meant something to him.

Third, I stand by my statement that the Federalist Society is a hateful group, but perhaps a claim such as that deserves more support. The Federalist Society is committed to rolling back our Constitutional rights and undoing protections such as affirmative action and abortion. The expansion of the power of the Federalist Society has resulted in more poverty, more death and less freedoms. Although the Federalist Society talks a different line, their actions in reality only serve as the Republican Party's wing within the judiciary. I think that lying about "judicial restraint" and other principles in order to further conservative goals that help the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and powerless is a very hateful thing. In a way I suppose all conservative organizations are ultimately hateful, but the two-faced nature of the Federalist society (because it deliberately conceals and lies about its true goals) make it a particularly hateful group.

As for judicial restraint, for instance, the Federalist judges on the court strike down far more laws than the liberal justices do. (I posted this a while back.) That's the definition of judicial activism -- usurping the legislature and judge-made law-making. So the Federalist talk doesn't match up with the Federalist actions, and the so-called "originalists" are the ones who actually are the activist judges.

Finally, why is it that the only way conservatives can fight Alito is by arguing that it's POSSIBLE that he didn't mean what he said abortion, that it's POSSIBLE that he didn't realize the group he bragged about on his resume for 13 years was racist and sexist, that it's POSSIBLE that all of his pro-corporate rulings over the years have just been coincidental. How about some real answers? How about some hard evidence? All of these conservative theories fail the "red face" test.


Anonymous tom said ... (2:32 PM) : 

1) Maybe you have done more research than me on CAP, where did you get your information that CAP's main goal was to keep women and minorities out of Princeton? As far as I know the one article Kennedy cited is the only isolated example. I'm sure if we went through all of the publications of every organization you've ever joined we could find a similarly bigotted opinion.

2) Of all the CAP documents that have just been released and previously analyzed by the NY Post, Alito is not mentioned once!

3) I think of judicial activism as imposing your belief of what the law should be and making it law. Overruling the legislature more often is not relevant, conservatives have a more restrictive view of the constitution, they are simply ruling the legislature laws as unconstitutional more often. Whereas the liberal justices can be legislating from the bench, by imposing their beliefs of what is in the constitution.

And I invite you to learn more about the Federalist Society. They are not the republican party, there is no coverup. There are many libertarians with very liberal views in the society, it is a diverse albeit conservative group. Unlike the ACLU they do not litigate cases or sponsor candidates and nominees. I'm afraid you simply dislike them b/c they disagree with you, which should not make them evil, or hateful.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (3:26 PM) : 

1) Check out the wikipedia article on CAP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concerned_Alumni_of_Princeton

"one of its central precepts was opposition to coeducation [women attending school with men]"

The ROTC incident was a main purpose, but the group's bizarre take on affirmative action was also key. To them, it was wrong to have affirmative action but correct to have quotas limiting the number of female students. This was by no means a side project of which Alito was not aware.

2) Again, I don't think that matters. If you were a member of a known-racist group, your level of participation doesn't matter.

3) I don't see any proof that liberals "impose their belief of what the law should be and making it law" and that conservatives don't. Conservatives' bare assertion that liberals do that and that they don't isn't enough to make it true. Conservatives believe the law should be limited in protections to weaker groups so that entrenched power can prevail. They change the law to make it so. Scalia, a proud Federalist, was legislating from the bench when we declared the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional.

Conservatives just assert that conservatives don't enforce their view of the law on others, and that liberals do, but there is zero evidence to back this up. I, on the other hand, have evidence that the conservative justices routinely conjure up increasingly novel legal arguments in order to strike down laws made by legislature. See http://waroncorporateevil.blogspot.com/2005/10/racist-sexist-corporatist-judge-samuel.html#links

Now the judiciary needs to interpret the law where blank spots exist, we both agree on that. Both parties may alter the law every time an opinion is issues, that's reality. Do liberals do this more? I've seen no evidence. I think it's pretty impossible to say that conservatives don't "impose their belief of what the law should be and making it law." Just look at Bush v. Gore. The conservatives on the court ignored all legal precedent in order to make a strictly political decision. The States Rights' madmen suddenly told a State Supreme Court how to determine a state law issue. The legal reasoning behind the opinion was so flawed that it became the first case in the history of the court to be labeled "Not Precedent."

4) Finally, we'll likely never agree on the Federalist Society. Let me be clear, however, that I don't simply hate them because I disagree with them. My dislike of your group is twofold.

First, the Federalist Society injects a large dose of politics into the judiciary. Unlike groups such as the ACLU (membership in which would doom any Supreme Court justice, by the way), the Federalist Society serves as a requirement for advancement in the conservative legal world. It's a way of certifying that a person has the right "judicial philosophy", in the words of Presdient Bush.

Second, the Federalist Society is fundamentally dishonest about their role in the political process. The ACLU, on the other hand, openly admits its political leanings and agenda. The Federalists disguise their role as the Republican party's wing of the judiciary. This stealth approach works better for them because they can be presented as some kind of legitimate alternative to the ABA and it helps them sucker people into joining who otherwise wouldn't. The costs to them are only honesty and integrity, two commodities that don't seem to mean much to modern day Republicans.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (3:39 PM) : 

One more thing -- let me explain the conservative movement, also called the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy".

The Federalist Society was created was part of a larger scheme in the 1970s. Nixon's disgrace led the Republican Party to launch counter measures to ensure that something similar never happened again. This scheme was designed to empower the Republican Party via the creation of a massive counter-intelligentsia. The idea, as originally formulated, was that experts of all subjects disagreed with conservative thought. As a counter to academia, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC) was born. Suddenly, conservative thought was presented on equal footing with scientific fact.

Out of the VRWC came the Federalist Society and think tanks like the Heritage Society and AEI. Four mega-wealthy families originally contributed the vast majority of these groups funds, although in recent years as these groups became mainstream, so did their donors.

The echo chamber of the media plays into the VRWC's power. Here's how false stories get planted in our news media: 1) Groups outside of, but allied with ,the GOP plant quasi-factual or fradulent stories in far right news outlets such as the Drudge Report, American Spectator, right-wing blogs or even word of mouth. 2) Somewhat legitimate conservative news groups then begin to run the story. This includes Rush Limbaugh, mainstream conservative blogs or right-leaning web sites. 3) Mainstream conservatives then quote from the groups in Part 2. This includes GOP politicians, FOX News or NewsMax. 4) Mainstream corporate media then cites FoxNews or Scott McClennan and report the initial falsehood as if it were true. Voila! Suddenly you've turned a complete lie into a legitimate news report. Once "debate" begins in the mainstream media, the role of groups like the Federalist Society is to provide reasoned, intellectual arguments to support the conservative purpose in creating the story to begin with.

The reason that the Federalists don't take political stances, in addition to the two I mentioned before, is that other parts of the VRWC apparatus are handling the openly political portion of the movement.


Anonymous Tom said ... (2:02 AM) : 

Quoting you:

"Unlike groups such as the ACLU (membership in which would doom any Supreme Court justice, by the way)"

Please research the Ginsburg confirmation: unanimous by the committee, and a 96-3 vote in the Senate. She was general counsel of the ACLU!

Conservatives seem to be able to accept the reality that a president can choose a Supreme Court justice which adheres to their political philosophy, so why can't the liberals?


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (9:06 AM) : 

Fair enough, I was wrong about the ACLU being the kiss of death. On the other hand, Ginsburg was cleared with the Republican leadership (despite the fact that they were the minority party) before her confirmation. No such respect was paid to the Democrats by Bush.

I don't think that Federalist Society membership should eliminate a judge from consideration for the Supreme Court, but I also don't think that Federalist Society membership should be a prerequisite for a spot on the Court.


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