Goodwin Liu & Laurence Tribe: The super flies in Alito's ointment
Naive me: I'd concluded that Judge Alito -- in an attempt to be incredibly well reasoned -- simply plays it so by the book that plain ol' common sense sometimes flies out the window.
However Professor Liu, a former clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, described Alito this way:
Instinct being the operative word. This New York Times article reprints Prof. Liu's opening statement from his testimony before the judicial committee. What I found most explosive was Liu's recounting Alito having sided with law enforcers killing an eight-year-old purse snatcher who ran from the authorities -- was not at all confrontational or a threat. Alito, he said, came down in support of the killing of this unarmed, African American child. Why? Because to have done otherwise would have set a precedent that could trigger coast to coast the overturn of past rulings on killing crime suspects who were unarmed and nonconfrontational. Whoa...
... Every case is different, and I'm sure Judge Alito got it right many times. But let me give three examples that show his instinct, I think, to defer to government power...
Prof. Liu seemed to have ticked off the Republicans by challenging Alito's civil rights record. After all, two African American lawyers testified yesterday, both saying they viewed Alito as having high integrity and admirably following the letter of the law. Which does not mean all that they intended it to. To me, their support of Alito could simply mean the man is well-mannered and collegial. Which has nothing to do with a penchant to move stealthily betwixt and between some of our shaky laws, depending on his agenda.
Picking up this morning where Liu left off was Harvard Law rock star Laurence Tribe. Considered one of the foremost authorities on Constitutional law, Prof. Tribe urged the committee not to cast their Alito votes as if in a Kubric movie: with "eyes wide shut." Tribe told the senators exactly how Alito had side-stepped their questions on abortion rights and executive power. He told them all the legal loop holes that Alito knows about, but certainly didn't mention in his testimony. Stuff the rest of us -- layman and senators alike -- would be too, umm, legally challenged to catch.
If the very fierce Prof. Liu ticked off the Republicans, I think the positively brilliant Prof. Tribe shook them the hell up. (snap!)
Professor Tribe told the senators precisely how Alito could help the high court usurp their power, giving a president a blank check to nullify their egotistical voices -- Republican and Democrat alike...
Now I imagine Senator Arlen Specter & Co. dig Bush and Cheyney, but they've got to be a little worried about this new Supreme Court possibly bending them over to become their butt boys. Alito's fuzziness on the checks and balance piece and executive power ought to give them all pause.
I could be wrong, but I sensed some of the Republicans looking a little like doe caught in the headlights of a Mac truck once Laurence Tribe spoke. They'll all vote yea for Alito, no doubt. But I seriously doubt all of these votes will be cast with 100% confidence, thanks to Tribe's call on congressional conquest.
I'll blog more on the Alito hearings later today. But if you want more right now, click here: alito