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November 7, 2005
A Lifetime Perspective On Alito

The New York Times' Janny Scott offers a surprise for Gray Lady readers and gives a fair, in-depth look at Samuel Alito in today's edition. She delves into the personal history of Alito and discerns that his conservatism has much more to do with his nature and little to do with ideology. Scott also finds that his brilliance has won over many supporters across the ideological spectrum, most of whom warn that Alito will likely have his own ideas on how to judge cases other than any strict ideological approach:

Throughout his life - at Yale Law School, as a government lawyer, as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals - Judge Alito has earned respect, even friendship, across the political spectrum. Some who describe themselves as liberals say they admire what they call Judge Alito's meticulousness and fair-mindedness - traits he appears to have come by early in life.

In high school, classmates called the studious youth Mr. President - and not simply because he was student council president. In the Reserve Officers Training Corps, he smudged his Princeton University affiliation off his helmet to avoid standing out. At Yale, his powers of artful argument were such that he won a moot court contest taking one side of a case that was before the Supreme Court. A few weeks later, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 for the other side.

Friends describe Judge Alito as disinclined toward small talk but brilliant in debate. He lives in suburban West Caldwell, N.J. - a quiet homebody with simple tastes married to a live wire and occasional practical joker. ...

J. L. Pottenger Jr., a friend of Judge Alito's at Princeton and Yale who is now a professor at Yale, said: "The reason I'm hoping he gets confirmed, even though I am a liberal, maybe an ultraliberal, is because I think he's an honest, well-intentioned guy who believes in judicial restraint in the model of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan and I can't really argue with that as a judicial philosophy. I don't think he's an ideologue. I don't think he's going to be out there trying to roll back the clock."

Scott provides excellent background on the Supreme Court nominee, including numerous quotes from the people who knew him in school and in the Reagan-era Office of Legal Counsel. It goes on in some length and detail about Alito and his personal journey; it may be the best look yet at a man whose overall approach appears to be allowing people to judge him based on his work alone. That kind of approach certainly sounds encouraging for a Supreme Court justice.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 7, 2005 6:23 AM

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» Smooth Sailing With The Captain from JustOneMinute
The Captain and I agree - this NY Times profile of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is very calm and reasonable, apparently like Alito himself. And we can file under this under Off-message, not exactly killer quotes:J. L. Pottenger Jr., [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 8:43 AM

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