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November 2, 2005
Liberals Love Alito: LA Times

While conservative enthusiasm for Judge Samuel Alito has received widespread coverage from the Exempt Media this week, the assumption of the reverse has received universal and unquestioned acceptance. In the simplified world of mass media, the judiciary gets represented as a zero-sum game, and where the parties keep the stakes high in order to prevail. Interestingly, the Los Angeles Times breaks that mold first in a profile of some unexpected support for Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court -- from liberal legal activists:

Samuel A. Alito Jr. was quickly branded a hard-core conservative after President Bush announced his nomination, but a surprising number of liberal-leaning judges and ex-clerks say they support his elevation to the Supreme Court.

Those who have worked alongside him say he was neither an ideologue nor a judge with an agenda, conservative or otherwise. They caution against attaching a label to Alito.

Kate Pringle, a New York lawyer who worked last year on Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign, describes herself as a left-leaning Democrat and a big fan of Alito's.

She worked for him as a law clerk in 1994, and said she was troubled by the initial reaction to his nomination. "He was not, in my personal experience, an ideologue. He pays attention to the facts of cases and applies the law in a careful way. He is conservative in that sense; his opinions don't demonstrate an ideological slant," she said.

Jeff Wasserstein, a Washington lawyer who clerked for Alito in 1998, echoes her view.

"I am a Democrat who always voted Democratic, except when I vote for a Green candidate but Judge Alito was not interested in the ideology of his clerks," he said. "He didn't decide cases based on ideology, and his record was not extremely conservative."

This demonstrates the healing power of originalist thought on the bench. True originalists will come to conclusions based strictly on the law, and not with notions about what they interpret as the "public good" -- value judgments outside the law that politics should settle in the venue of the Legislature, between elected representatives of the people. More than one of the attorneys and jurists interviewed on the record by the Times expressed surprise that Alito could be classified by anyone as a conservative based on their work with him. All of them tell the Times that Alito carefully constructed his decisions and opinions on strict reading of the law, and only on that basis.

The Times ends up with over a half-dozen former colleagues of Alito, all Democrats and most of them activist, who support his nomination to the Supreme Court. Of them, only one states that the support comes from the notion that he expects to get no better viable nomination from the Bush administration. The rest recognize Alito's legal scholarship and temperament provide him excellent qualification to rise to the highest bench in the nation.

Expect to see some of these same names testifying at the confirmation hearings. It will provide a few needed laughs to see Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden try to spin a John Kerry election attorney as a right-wing nutcase for her support of Judge Alito.

UPDATE: Fixed bad link to the unrelated Washington Post article; you should get the LAT article now. Thanks to Brant at SWLiP for the tip. (That Earl Gray in the morning gets more and more important!)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 2, 2005 6:56 AM

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» What's New With Alito? from Hard Starboard
Last week the Los Angeles Times broke ranks with its Extreme Media comrades (which may reflect the more dire condition of its circulation declines) and highlighted the support Judge Alito enjoys across the ideological spectrum [via CQ]: Samuel A. ... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 9:28 PM

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