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November 7, 2005
LA Times Analysis: Alito Not An Ideologue

One of the remarkable political stories this weekend was the lessening forces of the winds surrounding Hurricane Alito. Two leading Democrats in the Senate signaled that they will not filibuster Alito, and one -- Ted Kennedy -- said that he might even vote for Alito's confirmation. While some saw this as a ploy to lull Republicans into overconfidence, the Senators may have already done their research and determined, like the Los Angeles Times, that Alito's record shows a careful and thoughtful jurist that cannot easily be pigeonholed into a specific category:

Although liberal activists are portraying Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as a right-wing extremist, his 15 years' worth of legal opinions do not promise fealty to any ideology. Though many of his rulings favor business or prosecutors, they are often narrow and a sizable number cut the other way. Accordingly, Democrats in the Senate are cautious, and there is little or no talk of a filibuster. ...

In February, Alito wrote an opinion that reopened the case of a black murder defendant in Pennsylvania because the prosecutor had removed 13 of 14 blacks from the jury pool. This strongly suggests racial bias had infected the trial, Alito said.

Last fall, overturning a federal judge, Alito ordered a school district to allow an emotionally troubled New Jersey boy to transfer from a school where he was harassed by "bullies" who called him fat and "queer" and threw rocks at him outside class. Alito said school officials had ignored the effect of "the severe and prolonged harassment" on the young man.

In April, he spoke for the appeals court in reopening the asylum request of a Chinese woman who showed evidence she had been forced to have an abortion before fleeing China.

In September, Alito ruled for public housing tenants in Philadelphia who said officials had violated their contract by raising their gas rates during the year.

The LAT even has answers for the three cases that the left uses in its zeal to derail Alito's nomination. David Savage and Maura Reynolds shows how the Casey decision came from a lack of direction at the Supreme Court, and how four years later he wound up joining a majority that eased access to abortion in sn unrelated case. The Brady gun-control group faulted him for a decision he wrote that held that mere possession did not fall under Congress' oversight of interstate commerce. It also offers a bit more perspective on the Doe v Groody case, where Alito dissented and voted against allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

This might well have been an article that could have found room in the Washington Times or New York Post. Why has the Los Angeles Times (and for that matter, the New York Times below) suddenly decided to play nice on Alito? It appears that they have reached the same conclusion as some leading Democrats -- that they cannot argue Alito as a scary, strict ideologue. His track record after 15 years on the appellate bench shows far too much nuance and thoughtful, narrowly crafted decisions and dissents to paint him as an extremist -- and that they run the risk of looking like idiots again, as they did with Roberts, if they attempt to challenge him as such during his hearings.

Barring a scandal of some kind suddenly coming to light, it appears that George Bush will have another smooth sail on a Supreme Court confirmation.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 7, 2005 6:39 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 9:29 PM

» Alito a shoo-in? from
The Captain is tired of tilting at windmills. In this post he says that the forces that were lining up to fight the confirmation of Alito are beginning to throw in the towel before the fight even began. Hooray for our side! ... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 11:13 PM

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