Powered by Blogger

Who links to me?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Corporate Tool: Samuel Alito

Today the Senate begins its confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito. Since the Supreme Court upholds our fundamental rights, it's crucial to examine these lifetime appointments. Alito has an extensive record of favoring defendants in corporate lawsuits; I won't be dealing with those today, however. Two issues help expand corporate power in another way: the right to choose and the powers of the executive.


Stirring up religious fanatacism about abortion is a key way that giant corporations gain power. If Alito gets confirmed and later helps destroy the right to choose, the evil alliance between poor, uninformed religious people and giant, souless corporations will have won. Thinking religious people realize that the law should not enforce one group's religion upon the entire society. These people aren't the current branch of Republicans. Bush spoke in code during the 2004 election about abortion. Certainly the so-called "values voters" expected to see a change in the law in return for their vote. The far-right "Justice Sunday" is an example of a movement to change the Supreme Court.

So when a proven criminal and incompetent like George W. Bush nominates you, you are incredibly suspect. Alito's views on this subject are undeniable. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case the re-affirmed the right to choose, Alito was on the losing side in the lower court. When he applied for a job with the Reagan administration, the smoking gun emerges:

"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 a right to abortion."

"I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this (Reagan) administration."

Republicans say that you can't take Alito at his word because he was applying for a job. This is a ludicrous argument for two reasons. First, the Republicans are basically saying that he lied but that's ok. Supreme Court Justices should be above that. Second, this is obviously a statement of his personal beliefs. His extensive membership in conservative organizations, his conservative jurisprudence and work for Republican administrations indicates that this statement is totally accurate. He explicitly stated he believes that the Constitution fails to protect the right to choose. For this alone he deserves filibuster.

The Republicans are comparing him to David Souter, a Republican appointment who turned out be to a centrist. This argument predictably fails. Souter spent his entire career in state politics. He served a mere 2 months on the Federal Circuit Court before getting a quickie appointment to the Supreme Court. Souter was considered the "stealth justice" because his record was so narrow. In retrospect, women's rights groups had every right to fear Souter. Fortunately, everything turned out ok. Alito is no Souter; Alito has 15 years of experience as an Appellate court judge.


Alito has a long-standing commitment to viewing the power of the president as incredibly expansive. At a Federalist Society symposium in 2001, Alito endorsed the idea of the unitary executive. Alito, as a Reagan executive, argued that administration officials should have absolute immunity from liability for illegal wiretaps. The Supreme Court disagreed. In cases such as United States v. Lee, Alito interpreted the Fourth Amendment so as to neuter it.

All of this comes as President Bush has willfully violated FISA and committed several crimes. Alito could rule on some of these criminal acts should they reach the Supreme Court. Liberals such as Ted Kennedy have promised to question Alito about these, but it doesn't end there. Republican Senator Arlen Specter, the head of the judiciary committee, said the following on Face the Nation this weekend:

You have what appears to be a conflict between the president's claim of executive war powers to eavesdrop without a warrant, a conflict with what Congress has done on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And I think it is a fair inquiry, and I intend to press the question with Judge Alito as to how he would approch these issues on a jurisprudential base.

At least the questions will be broached. We should all listen, but keep in mind that Alito has a proven record of reading ambiguities in the law in favor of big corporations, a record of undermining fundamental rights and a record that includes extensive memberships in conservative groups like the Federalist Society.

Alito will likely be confirmed by the Senate. The widespread talk among craven, pathetic Democrats is that no filibuster is planned. Hopefully this is just strategy, but I will be sorely disappointed with our party if we roll over and let a wingnut like Alito destroy fundamental rights. Perhaps some Democrats are caving in to Bill Frist's threat to eliminate the filibuster should Democrats mount one against Alito. We can't be afraid of a fight.

Comments on ""


post a comment