November 16, 2005
Reid on Alito
Better late than never, I guess:
Two weeks ago the President nominated Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. I congratulate Judge Alito on this high honor, and I pledge that Senate Democrats will help ensure a thorough and dignified confirmation process.
While I approach the confirmation process with an open mind, even at this early stage I have a number of significant concerns that I want to share with my colleagues.
… [A] picture of Sam Alito is emerging that may explain why the right-wing is popping champagne corks. Earlier this week we learned of the 1985 memo in which Alito said “I am, and always have been a conservative” and spoke proudly of his work on behalf of the extremely conservative agenda of the Reagan Justice Department.
We don’t have to guess whether Judge Alito’s description of himself in that memo would predict what kind of judge he would be. For the past fifteen years, Judge Alito has been one of the most conservative federal judges in the country.
For example, in civil rights cases he has often dissented to argue for higher barriers to recovery for people with claims of discrimination. In Bray v. Marriott Hotels, his colleagues said Title VII of the Civil Right Act “would be eviscerated” if Judge Alito’s approach were followed. In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, he dissented in a disability rights case where the majority said: “few if any Rehabilitation Act cases would survive” if Judge Alito’s view were the law. And in Sheridan v. DuPont, he was the only one of 11 judges on the court who would apply a higher standard of proof in a sex discrimination case.
Good to see that the Senate Minority Leader is still drawing breath; hard to see why he didn’t give this speech earlier. And harder still to understand his continuing reluctance to envision doing whatever it takes to ensure that Alito doesn’t make it to the Supreme Court bench. For example, referring to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s threatening op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Reid said:
No Democrat has even raised the issue of extended debate. At this early stage of the process, two months before committee hearings on this nomination will begin, it is silly to argue about the terms of floor debate.
Well, no, it’s not—not when so much is at stake (PDF). If what’s needed is a pitched filibuster battle, then the Dems should be preparing for that and all it entails—not meekly asking Frist to “put his sword back in its sheath.”
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