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12:10 ET - We're under way with the hearing, and Arlen Specter is using his time to explain the process. He spoke about the "subtle minuet" surrounding the answering of questions by Senators. He says that Chief Justice Roberts' performance so far suggests that the court will not shift its political orientation.
12:13 - It appears that Specter is back on the reservation. He went out of his way to say that based on his conversations with Alito, the nominee would give proper consideration to stare decisis and noted the hysterical reaction by Planned Parenthood to the Souter nomination.
12:18 - Pat Leahy waited until his second sentence to mention Harriet Miers and her "forced withdrawal by a narrow faction" within the GOP.
12:21 - On the other hand, he waited until the 3-minute mark to mention the "disturbing memorandum" -- IOW, the cover letter he wrote for his resume over 20 years ago. I guess Leahy couldn't find any problems with his judicial record.
12:22 - Once again, O'Connor comes up in Leahy's address as Saint Sandra. Hey, she was a fair and decent Supreme Court justice, but she hardly qualifies as a model. He also decries that Alito is a white guy instead of ... some other flavor. So much for focusing on Alito's qualifications.
12:27 - "There are narrow and extreme factions who demand that they get nominees that will vote the way they want. That's why I will ask you specific questions on the issues." Apparently, Leahy just put himself in the company of those who want specific votes on issues.
12:32 - Orrin Hatch notes that since Alito currently sits on the federal bench, he's already bound by judicial ethics that contrain him from giving his opinion on issues that likely will come before the court.
12:38 - Kennedy takes the microphone. He starts off by applauding Alito's life story. "Will a nominee uphold ... equal justice under the law?" Again with O'Connor; "even one justice can advance or reverse the progress of our journey." Alito's record "troubles me deeply"; Alito's support for an "all-powerful presidency" is "deeply troubling". Kennedy continues to proclaim (erroneously) that the President spies on "American citizens". He not only misstates the crime, he misstates the purported victims.
12:44 - "In an era when more people are losing their jobs..." What? Has he not gotten the employment stats in the last three years or so? Does Kennedy even pay attention to hard data any longer?
12:45 - Judge "Alioto". Okay. Go back and play with Splash, Senator.
12:48 - Senator Grassley: "I have a much more positive view of Judge Alito." Gets a smile from the nominee and a laugh from the bloggers here.
12:51 - Grassley notes that 54 of his law clerks across the political spectrum endorsed him for his confirmation, saying that he never prejudged a case in their long experience with Alito.
12:54 - Grassley notes that Democrats have called the ABA rating the "gold standard", but have ignored Alito's unanimous "well-qualified" rating. Grassley notes that the factions have twisted facts to "give the nominee a black eye before these hearings have even started".
12:58 - Grassley did a nice job of letting a little passion get into his defense of Alito and still sound like the voice of reason. Unfortunately, he was followed by Joe Biden. Now because Alito reads the National Review and American Spectator and belongs to the Federalist Society, Biden expects him to answer questions he defended Ginsburg for not answering during her confirmation hearing.
1:04 - "It's not your fault that you're replacing the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court." Well, then why bring it up? If the confirmation hearing bears on Alito's qualifications, why should he defend his gender or his selection? Biden should ask that question of the White House.
1:06 - Biden, to no one's surprise, is running over his time, by stating for the record that he can't fathom why judges shouldn't prejudge issues that will come before the court. I believe him. I don't think Biden fathoms much of anything, and his questions will reveal that.
1:15 - Jon Kyl notes the long experience of Samuel Alito and then notes the standard of the ABA and its support from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kyl is always such an excellent speaker, one wonders when he will finally step into a more national role within the GOP.
1:35 - Dianne Feinstein invokes Sandra Day O'Connor in the first sentence, and then she spends her time criticizing the Rehnquist court.
1:42 - Feinstein pretty much spent her time saying, "I hope you'll spend your time with us breaking judicial ethics by committing to ruling on upcoming cases." Sounds like a replay of the Roberts hearings. This should be rather tiresome, but if the Democrats want to behave like idiots -- again -- that's their prerogative.
1:52 - The Political Teen points out that I switched to Central Time halfway through this post. I call it Senate Delayed Time ...
1:53 - They almost forgot to call Russ Feingold. No doubt that would have been a blow to the proceedings ...
2:00 - A 15-minute recess, wherein the Senators get to go to the yard and play dodgeball. Ted Kennedy usually gets selected last for this event.Sphere It View blog reactions
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