John Leo

The Democratic strategy, if you can call it that, was essentially an effort to tar Alito as a bigot, a liar and a ideologue. The press laid the groundwork for the ideological charge. Stuart Taylor, a heavyweight legal columnist for National Journal, complained in December that “the systematic slanting--conscious or unconscious” of news reports had fueled a campaign by liberal groups and senators to caricature Alito as a ideologue, when an analysis of his record shows that he is “wedded to no ideological agenda other than restraint in the exercise of judicial power.”

Every now and then, Democratic senators strayed away from their apparent commitment to full-time borking. Reliance on other countries’ judges came up. The Democrats appeared surprised that Alito opposed tailoring U.S. court decisions to those reached in foreign courts. U.S. elites chafe under the old-fashioned rule that federal judges should look to the Constitution for guidance rather than to elites in Britain, France or Canada. Democrats also made clear that justices should rule in accordance with the size of plaintiffs-“little guys” are always in the right, whereas big guys, particularly if they are corporate guys, are always wrong and frequently evil. As John Roberts said during his hearings, when the Constitution supports the little guy, I’ll come down on the little guy’s side. When it supports the big guy, I’ll come down on the big guy’s side. To sizeists, this is a revolutionary idea.

The Democrats spent a great deal of time fretting about abortion, even after Alito made clear that he had already said what he wanted to say. The technical term for the Democratic effort here is “fund-raising.” Powerful pro-abortion groups like NARAL, NOW and People for the American Way channel a great deal of money to Democrats, who are thus heavily inclined to sing for their future suppers. This is the case even when there is no apparent reason to keep badgering someone like Alito. After each lost election, Democrats talk about the need to reach out to moderates on values issues. But the first order of business is getting re-elected, which means reflecting the anger of those with a stranglehold on money.

In the end, the attempts to tar and provoke Alito came to nothing. The biggest news was that the Democrats made Mrs. Alito cry, a clear violation of the party’s sensitivity rules. He will be confirmed.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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