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January 12, 2006
Al Capone's Vault, Take 2

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wound up looking like the group of boobs that their behavior has demonstrated them to be when the vetting of the William Rusher papers elicited no mention whatsoever of Samuel Alito in connection to Concerned Alumni of Princeton or anything else that could paint him as the bigot that Democrats insinuated he was:

Earlier, the panel's chairman announced that staffers had examined records of a controversial Princeton University alumni group once cited by Alito in a job application, but had found no mention of Alito.

While the alumni group appeared to fizzle out as an issue in the hearings, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Alito that Democrats continue to be disturbed by some of his judicial views, making it "very hard to vote yes on your nomination."

Opening the fourth day of the confirmation hearings, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee chairman, announced the results of a records search that was requested by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and that triggered the sharpest exchanges of the hearings among senators yesterday.

After tossing around threats yesterday of appealing a non-existent ruling of the chair to get the records subpoenaed, Ted Kennedy didn't even bother to bring up CAP in his third round of questioning today. It didn't stop him from issuing statements that continued to smear Alito through guilt by association today, but somehow the senior bloviator from Massachussetts couldn't screw up the courage to actually try confronting Alito again with the questions while he had the chance.

However, one Democrat may have stumbled onto a solution for the future that will work for everyone. Joe Biden, who in two successive hearings has proven unable to ask a question in less than 1,000 words, has belatedly come to the conclusion that hearings may indeed be a waste of time:

Supreme Court nominees are so mum about the major legal issues at their Senate confirmation hearings that the hearings serve little purpose and should probably be abandoned, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden said Thursday.

"The system's kind of broken," said Biden, a member of the Judiciary Committee considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.

"Nominees now, Democrat and Republican nominees, come before the United States Congress and resolve not to let the people know what they think about the important issues," such as a president's authority to go to war, said Biden.

The blame for that lies squarely with the panel's Democrats. After getting the Roberts nomination last time around, the caucus complained that the administration's predilection for nominating stealth candidates forced them to dig into the background of nominees outside of their judicial experience. They also made clear that conservatives with extensive public records of their standing on issues would face a filibuster, a warning echoed by a handful of moderate Republicans afraid of upsetting Senate "comity". The White House responded by nominating a man with fifteen years of experience on the appellate bench, and even more as a federal prosecutor, all of it exemplary.

How did the Democrats react? By smearing him through the most tenuous of connections to a few stupid articles in a Princeton magazine affiliated with an organization that Alito once belonged before his public work began.

Waiving hearings, under these circumstances, makes for a good suggestion, but let's be clear why that is so. The Democrats on the panel cannot be trusted to act like honest and trustworthy stewards of the nation's business. In fact, most of the time they can't be trusted to act like adults. Joe Biden's suggestion will go a long way to keep that truth from the American people and keep them from playing the part of Geraldo Rivera in Al Capone's vault in the future.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 12, 2006 1:15 PM

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