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January 10, 2006
RNC Blogger Forum: Alito's Contemporaries

Former Attorney General Robert Del Tufo employed Samuel Alito as a prosecutor. He said that Alito distinguished himself as a litigator as well as a researcher and preparer of briefs. His work consisted of working on organized-crime and white-collar fraud, work that requires the management of teams to get anything accomplished. Del Tufo prosecuted two Russian spies, and Alito did some interesting work in handling questions of diplomatic immunity. He certainly handled some high-profile cases.

Since then, Del Tufo has been practicing law in the private sector but has followed Alito's career closely. "His approach to issues demonstrates his scholarship, doing the research, studying the law to see how it pertains to the issue before him, and using it in a thoughtful way," he says. "Labels don't mean anything with Alito." Del Tufi says careful is a good word in describing Alito, as well as a "fine human being." Del Tufo believes in these times, it is critical to have people of Alito's balance and intellect on the Court.

Professor J.L. Pottenger is a clinical teacher; he represents clients, and his students practice together with him on his cases. Attacks on Alito's character motivated this "liberal Democrat" to come to DC to work on Alito's behalf. He believes that the processes now in place during the confirmation have eviscerated the distinction between law and politics and also believes that to be a dangerous development.

As an ethicist, Pottenger says it would surprise him if the ABA would give a unanimous "well-qualified" rating if any question remained at all about Vanguard. Both he and Del Tufo noted that 300 judges reviewed Alito and came to the conclusion that he had the highest ethics.

How to fix it? Del Tufo emphasizes the need to hold our elected officials responsible for their behavior. Pottenger agreed but says the problem lies with the amount of power we have invested in the courts to make our decisions for us, rather than making legislatures tackle the difficult questions. I agree with both of them -- and that's why, as I have repeatedly argued, originalism gives us the only way out of the box. Originalism will not outlaw abortion, but vacating Roe (as but one example) returns abortion to the legislatures as a policy issue to be solved by the people via a consensus.

By the way, just to give you a taste of this segment, it's hard to imagine any more gravitas in one panel than these two men brought to the room. They were most impressive and very gracious indeed.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 10, 2006 2:58 PM

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