Larry Elder
Question: Who called Judge Sam Alito, nominated to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, an "ultra-conservative"?

Was it an attack by the liberal Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.? No. A putdown by liberal Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.? No. The person calling Judge Alito "ultra-conservative"? None other than NBC's Matt Lauer.

Yo, Matt, your liberalism is showing.

Lauer sat with former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., on the "Today" show and analyzed the Sam Alito hearings. Lauer pointed to Alito's 1985 application for a job in the Reagan administration: "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 a right to an abortion."

What happened next -- even in our era of obvious left-leaning media bias -- still astonishes. After reading that part of the application, Lauer blurted, "But let's face it, he is an ultra-conservative and his track record on the bench is that he, he, he goes to the right on key issues."


Thompson gamely responded, "He's not an ultra-conservative. He's a conservative in a conservative mainstream, just like Democratic appointees have been liberal in a liberal mainstream."


Lauer's comments suggest that only "ultra-conservatives" oppose quotas. Yet back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy said:

I don't think we can undo the past. In fact, the past is going to be with us for a good many years in uneducated men and women who lost their chance for a decent education. We have to do the best we can now. That is what we are trying to do. I don't think quotas are a good idea. [Emphasis added.] I think it is a mistake to begin to assign quotas on the basis of religion or race -- color -- nationality. . . . On the other hand, I do think that we ought to make an effort to give a fair chance to everyone who is qualified -- not through a quota -- but just look over our employment rolls, look over our areas where we are hiring people and at least make sure we are giving everyone a fair chance. But not hard and fast quotas. . . . We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color.

JFK an "ultra-conservative"? Who'd have thought it?

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit