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Today's hearing wrapped up the testimony of Samuel Alito for his confirmation to the Supreme Court. After a short executive session, the committee came back into public session to take testimony from other witnesses. They began with a remarkable series of judges, colleagues of Judge Alito, who took the unprecedented step of defending their peer from the mudslinging that came from the Judiciary Committee this week.
One of the judges that came forward, and one of the first to testify this afternoon, was Ruggeri Aldisert, whose appointment dates back to the Johnson administration. Aldisert served in the Marine Corps in World War II and has spent 40 years on the bench. Aldisert also reminded the committee about who put him on the federal bench:
ALDISERT: When I first testified before this committee in 1968, I was seeking confirmation of my own nomination to the federal circuit court. I speak now as the I speak now as the most senior judge on the 3rd circuit.
And I begin my brief testimony with some personal background.
ALDISERT: In May 1960, I campaigned with John F. Kennedy in the critical presidential primaries of West Virginia.
The next year, I ran for judge, as was indicated, and I was on the Democratic ticket, and I served eight years as a state trial judge.
And as the chairman indicated, Senator Joseph Clark of Pennsylvania was my chief sponsor when President Lyndon Johnson nominated me to the Court of Appeals, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy from New York was one of my key supporters.
Now, why do I say this? I make this as a point that political loyalties become irrelevant when I became a judge. The same has been true in the case of Judge Alito, who served honorably in two Republican administrations before he was appointed to our court.
Judicial independence is simply incompatible with political loyalties, and Judge Alito's judicial record on our court bears witness to this fundamental truth.
I have been a judge for 45 of my 86 years. And based on my experience, I can represent to this committee that Judge Alito has to be included among the first rank of the 44 judges with whom I have served on the 3rd Circuit, and including another 50 judges on five other courts of appeals on which I have sat since taking senior status.
That contained a pretty unsubtle dig at the man who more than anyone else turned these hearings into a joke and a debacle. Judge Aldisert knew and worked with Ted's older and more accomplished brothers, supporting them and accepting their support when it came to working in politics and rising to the federal bench. In this case, the eighty-six-year-old man with 45 years of judicial experience flew all the way in from California, in an unprecedented show of support for a fellow judge before a Senate committee, just to state categorically that the dissolute younger brother of his political heroes had the nominee all wrong.
It reminds me of the Lloyd Bentsen moment in the VP debate in 1988 with Dan Quayle, when the VP nominee told the eventual VP that he was no John Kennedy. The difference in this case was that Teddy didn't have the guts to face Aldisert, having fled the scene when these witnesses came to the bench -- like almost all of his Democratic colleagues.Sphere It View blog reactions
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