09 January 2006

A-lie-to Goes to Washington, Day I

"The judge's only obligation -- and it's a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law."
-- Samuel Alito, SCOTUS confirmation hearing, 01/09/06

"Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of forcing some rethinking by courts, scholars, and litigants, it may help to curb some of the prevalent abuses of legislative history." -- Samuel Alito, on so-called "signing statements," 02/05/86
And thus is the story of Sam Alito: say what you have to, when you have to, to who you have to.

Not surprisingly, now that he's faced with having to try to talk his way into a spot on the highest court in the land, he stresses the differences between being a lawyer and being a judge.
"When I became a judge, I stopped being a practicing attorney. And that was a big change in role. The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. But a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case..."
Alito wants us to trust that he can assume whatever duties are required of the job at hand. Unfortunately, what seems closer to the truth is that he will assume whatever position is necessary to get the job at hand. In 1990, when the Senate Judiciary Committee posed difficult questions about cases involving firms he had a financial interest in, Alito said that he'd recuse himself. Ultimately, those assurances proved false, and he not only presided over, but joined in a ruling in favor of the Vanguard Group, a financial organization in which he had "substantial personal investments."

Further, when Alito was pressed on comments he made about abortion rights:
"Most recently, it has been an honor and a source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion."
He told Sen. Dianne Feinstein that he was "an advocate...seeking a political job." Only problem is, that's not a political view, that's a direct comment on the scope of the Constitution in which he, by his own admission, "personally believe(s) very strongly." The very same thing could be said of his justification of signing statements, which--in no small way--unequivocally pisses on the "rule of law." Of course, he'll claim the opposite; regurgitating the differences between his role as an attorney and that of a jurist.

But what reason has he given us to believe a single word he's said?

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