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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Fourth Estate screams

The New York Times, that bastion of truth, integrity, and intelligence, has an editorial up about Justice Alito (yeah, I’m going to go ahead and start calling him that now).  Yes, yes, its on the memo from his job application to join the Justice Department under Ed Meese during the second Reagan term.  Here are the bare arguments, to get all of their “nuance” you’ll have to read the whole thing:

First, he has extreme views on the law.
Second, Judge Alito does not respect precedent.
Third, he is an ideologue.

Well super, add that all up and what do we find out?  The NYT opposes Alito because they think he opposes abortion.  If that makes him unqualified, they better call up their buddies Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and start up some impeachment proceedings for a few of the justices we have sitting now.  The ideologue charge is related to his statement that he is a life long conservative and republican, and that, horror of horrors, he may have acted on his beliefs.  The problem with this charge, aside from the RBG standard, is that it has nothing to do with how he will act as a judge.  Precluding people that have strong beliefs from serving on the court would be idiotic at best, actual neutrality of beliefs is not a commendable position.  Regarding his lack of respect for precedent, the Times refers to Clarence Thomas as an example of claiming to respect precedent and then violating it.  An appeals court judge is bound to follow precedent, the SCOTUS is not so much, applying a looser conception of stare decisis.  If it didn’t, and the Court couldn’t correct its own errors, well, we would live in a Plessy v. Ferguson world.  The Times ignores the fact that in his Casey dissent, Alito was merely trying to follow his predecessor’s “undue burden” test.  Ed Whelan does a nice job comparing Alito and O’Connor here.  As to his “extreme views”, the Times does little but note that Alito was proud of working on cases where he agreed with the issues.  How dare he.  

Their final note on the memo is that it is “Equally alarming is the notion that he fudged the truth to tell a potential employer what it wanted to hear.”

Well, I guess the Times could set a good example by going through their reporter pools and firing everyone who claimed in an interview that they wanted to work for things like “truth.”


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