Monday, October 31, 2005
If At First You Don't Succeed...
President Bush announced this morning that his new nominee for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will be Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., currently sitting on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Alito has a reputation as a staunch conservative ideologue and has been compared frequently to Justice Antonin Scalia.
It's interesting that Bush chose to go to nearly the polar opposite of Harriet Miers in his latest pick. Though he often claims to not pay attention to polls (right...), apparently he does listen quite closely to his conservative base. And this is surely their pick, if ever there was one. Alito has a long record of judicial opinions that leave little doubt as to his ideological leanings.
Of course, the biggest issue that both sides of the aisle are concerned about is Alito's stand on Roe vs. Wade. I think this is a bit of a red herring and really not that important to the upcoming debate about his nomination. ANY nominee that Bush appoints to the U.S. Supreme Court is going to at least be ideologically opposed to abortion. Alito appears to also be opposed to Roe vs. Wade as a matter of legal philosophy, as well. Certainly if "Scalito" is as ideologically matched to his namesake as we've been led to believe, then it would seem that a woman's right to choose is at least in danger of being sharply curtailed. The end of Roe vs. Wade will not be by overturning, but by a thousand little cuts at the edges, until abortion, while still legal, will be so heavily regulated as to be effectively banned.
The question for the Democrats to answer, in regard to the coming confirmation battle, is whether or not it is acceptable to filibuster a nominee for ideological reasons. I think that it is appropriate and I suspect that the Alito nomination will become the "extraordinary circumstance" that nullifies the brokered "peace" between the parties. Further, an election win does not give either party the privilege of remaking the country in their own ideological image. Just because Bush received more votes in 2004 does not mean he has the right to govern as though the 50+ million that voted against him no longer have any say in their government. The Democrats need to take a united stand against this nomination; there's plenty of ammunition in Alito's record to motivate any faction of the Left.
My last thought is that those of us on the left need to start preparing now for the reality of a Supreme Court shifted to the Right. The Alito nomination is the culmination of 30 years of strategic planning by the conservatives to re-make the United States into the country they want. There are some major issues concerning the civil rights of individuals and the role of government in our personal lives that this new cadre of strict reconstructionists will have deleterious effect upon and the Left needs to prepare now to repair the damage.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how events play out. My suspicion is that many conservatives will end up having some serious buyer's remorse when they see just what kind of country will be wrought from conservative ideology. No right to privacy, severely curtailed labor rights, little if any protection from corporate malfeasance, severely reduced social welfare programs (of which the ten biggest recipient states are "red" states)...it'll be a very different America.