Thomas Sowell

The Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito told us more about the Senators than it did about Judge Alito.

 First, there were those long-winded preambles to "questions" for the judge. Then there were the Mickey Mouse maneuvers and insinuations, spiced here and there with outright lies.

 The ridiculousness of the charges was classically illustrated by Senator Joseph Biden's claim that Alito had been part of a group that was trying to keep minorities and women out of Princeton. Apparently wanting everyone to meet the same admissions standards is considered to be the same as being against minorities and women.

 To dramatize his position, Senator Biden said, "I don't even like Princeton." Unfortunately for him, a radio talk show host played that back on the air -- along with a speech that Biden gave at Princeton, praising it to the skies.

 At the same level of farce was a loud and insistent demand by Senator Ted Kennedy that the Senate Judiciary Committee vote to issue a subpoena for certain records -- even though those records were readily available without a subpoena. In fact, the records in question had already been received by the committee.

 The biggest hypocrisy was asking Judge Alito questions that everyone knew in advance no judicial nominee could -- or should -- answer, and then complaining afterwards on nationwide television that he was not "forthcoming" or "responsive." 

 None of these ploys had anything to do with determining Judge Alito's qualifications to be on the Supreme Court. At most there were attempts to provoke him to anger with insulting questions, in hopes of providing an excuse for Democrats to vote against him and for the weaker Republicans to be afraid to support him.

 But Judge Alito remained unruffled and dignified.

 The real purpose of all this grandstanding was to play to the gallery of the most rabid element of Democratic Party activists, people like the Hollywood leftists who contribute big bucks and who hate everything the administration stands for, as well as most of what most Americans stand for.

 Despite the phony issues and overheated rhetoric by some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the only real objection to Judge Alito is that he could become the deciding "swing vote" on a closely divided Supreme Court by replacing Sandra Day O'Connor -- and that Judge Alito is not likely to be as sympathetic to liberal positions as Justice O'Connor has become over the years.

 That "swing vote" has long been the real issue in Senate confirmation hearings, whether the name of the nominee has been Bork or Alito.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate