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January 6, 2006
Confirmation Follies To Reach Their Crescendo This Weekend

We can expect the circus surrounding the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court to pick up the intensity over the weekend. That may already have begun to some small extent with a warning from the loudmouth of the Democratic caucus on the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Schumer, explaining that Alito has to give more complete answers than anyone else:

Alito's hearing before the Judiciary Committee, scheduled to begin Monday, will last a week if it tracks last year's confirmation process for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. A Democratic member, Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), said yesterday that senators will ask extensive questions and insist that Alito answer them fully -- even if it means pushing the hearing into the following week.

All judicial nominees are required to respond to senators' queries, Schumer said in a speech in Washington. "The obligation, however, is greater for some nominees," he said. "It is greater when a nominee has taken a clear position on a legal matter."

Well, wait a minute. Wasn't Schumer one of those who argued that John Roberts had a greater requirement because he hadn't generated a public track record? The entire Democratic caucus made that argument repeatedly, both before and during Roberts' confirmation hearing. They complained about Roberts being a "stealth" candidate, devoid of any substantive judicial track record or public writings, and so demanded not just an overabundance of candor during his testimony before the committee but access to documents covered under attorney-client privilege. Now Democrats want to argue that the same holds true for a candidate with fifteen years of experience as a federal appellate jurist and a long track record of public writings.

Not that anyone expects Democrats to make sense or remain consistent in anything but knee-jerk antagonism for this administration, but one would think that the contradiction would be so apparent even to the slow-witted Democrats on Judiciary that such an argument would embarrass them. Apparently not.

In the meantime, both Schumer and his colleague Ted Kennedy maintained their pre-hearing sense of balance and open-mindedness. Kennedy told the press:

"We here in the United States are not going to stand for monarchial tyranny," he said, protesting Alito's support for "unfettered, unlimited power of the executive." He faulted Alito for belonging to a group that was "anti-black and also anti-women." Kennedy wondered if "the average person is going to be able to get a fair shake" under Alito.

Briefly, Kennedy rewrote the outcome of the 1964 election. "This nominee was influenced by the Goldwater presidency," he said. "The Goldwater battles of those times were the battles against the civil rights laws." Only then did Kennedy acknowledge that "Judge Alito at that time was 14 years old."

A questioner pointed out that Kennedy sounded like a sure bet against Alito. "I haven't reached a final conclusion," the senator demurred.

So Kennedy would be OK supporting an allegedly anti-black, anti-women nominee that argues for monarchical tyranny ... under exactly what circumstances? If a Clinton nominated him or her?

As I mentioned earlier, the First Mate and I will be traveling to Philadelphia this weekend to cover the action at Justice Sunday III, the event held by pro-Bush evangelicals the night before a Supreme Court nominee faces his or her Judiciary Committee hearings. Several bloggers will be on hand for the event, including La Shawn Barber, Stacy Harp, and Right Wing Sparkle, with Charmaine Yoest providing the coordination. We're hearing that Planned Parenthood and ACT-UP both plan to protest at JSIII, which should provide a bit more spice than the rather tepid (but well-mannered) protest at JSII in Nashville last fall. Afterwards, we will go to DC to cover the first couple of days of the hearings themselves, hopefully getting a chance to speak with some of the principals themselves but at least visiting a few good friends while we're there.

Look for a short but intense burst of dish-throwing from the Left to grab a few headlines. I doubt that it will amount to much else.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 6, 2006 7:15 AM

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