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January 7, 2006
Alito's Former Pupil Defends Him In The NYT

Liberal trial attorney Caren Dean Thomas has some advice for her fellow Democrats regarding the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, advice she offers in the opinion pages of the New York Times today:

The president took the high road on this nomination. He juggled his politics and his public relations, and while I don't like either, I have to be grateful for the quality of lawyer, and individual, who emerged as the nominee.

We have to decide whether the unfortunate tradition begun with Robert Bork's nomination should be continued indefinitely or whether, with the wisdom of hindsight, we exhume it only when absolutely warranted. Liberals among us have got to get real - to press for the finest jurists a conservative administration is willing to offer, and to spend our capital in that pursuit.

Unlike the nutcases like Stephen Dujack that Democrats have scraped out from under the rocks to represent their opposition to Alito, Thomas actually knows what she's talking about. Thomas knew Alito during his days at Yale Law School, along with a cute couple named Bill and HIllary. She also had Robert Bork as one of her professors, and explains why she believes that the Democrats were correct to attack Bork while being way off the mark about Alito:

Professor Bork coupled a distaste for the Bill of Rights with a devotion to the Commerce Clause that made it the centerpiece of our entire semester. The privilege against self-incrimination, we were told, should have been limited only to cases of physical intimidation and torture - certainly it should not be invoked to protect a defendant from verbal self-incrimination on the witness stand. Charming and articulate, Professor Bork told us that he had left the practice of law to pursue the more intellectual aims of teaching because, frankly, he just didn't care that much about people. ...

When I finished law school I clerked for Leonard P. Moore, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The contrast with Professor Bork was stark. Judge Moore checked his ego at the courthouse door. He was politically conservative, but his great integrity, restraint and personal devotion to the law made him a fair and sensitive jurist. He hired clerks irrespective of their political views - indeed, he relished the exchange of ideas with clerks whose ideas were different from his own. He was open-minded in his discussions with us and weighed all viewpoints carefully.

Sam Alito's character suggests he'll follow the tradition of Judge Moore. In our class Sam was respected for his intellectual ability. He was quiet, but when he did speak his remarks were thoughtful and to the point. He wasn't showy or pretentious. He listened to others. I can't recall Sam prejudging an issue or reaching arbitrary conclusions. He worked hard and was never ashamed of that, even at a school that favored the appearance of effortless brilliance.

I disagree with Thomas about Bork; I still think he was treated terribly by people who couldn't carry Bork's briefcase in terms of ethics and intelligence, especially Ted Kennedy, who masterminded the first "borking". However, her support of the block thrown at Bork makes her defense of Alito all that more compelling -- as does her description of Bork the professor, actually.

Thomas wants the Democrats to come to the understanding that they risk losing their credibility if they cannot come to grips with the fact that elections have consequences, and that turning every judicial confirmation into a proxy election harms political and judicial processes. Too bad the Judiciary Democrats have chosen instead to take counsel from people who equate meat eaters with genocidal Nazis.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 7, 2006 5:02 PM

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