Held in contempt

Posted: Jan 13, 2006 12:05 AM
It takes two to tango, two to minuet and two to have a “conversation.”

So there was reason to hope, as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the nomination of Samuel Alito to sit on the Supreme Court got underway, that the senators might even allow the nominee to speak. As Sen. Joe Biden put it, “I really hope that this doesn’t turn out to be a minuet. I hope it turns out to be conversation.” It wasn’t to be.

During his first round of questioning, Biden spent 24 of his 30 minutes talking, allowing only about six minutes for Alito to answer. Some conversation.

Maybe Biden should have talked (dare we say filibustered?) even more. When he, and his liberal colleagues on the committee, allowed Alito to speak, the nominee easily answered every question they threw his way. Perhaps that’s because they didn’t have much to challenge him with.

Judge Alito has served on the Third Circuit for 15 years, meaning he has, as President Bush put it, “more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.” He’s sat on thousands of cases. That’s perhaps the longest professional paper trail in history. So it only makes sense that many liberals wanted to talk about … Alito’s job application for a Justice Department position 21 years ago.

“In 1985,” Sen. Pat Leahy noted, “your job application proudly put that you were a member of it, a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, a conservative alumni group.” Alito’s response was direct and reasonable. “If I had been actively involved in the organization in any way, if I had attended meetings, or been actively involved in any way, I would certainly remember that, and I don’t,” he answered.

It’s not clear how this is relevant to whether or not Alito is qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court. Maybe liberals want us to believe that, because CAP is supposedly anti-woman, anti-minority and anti-gay, Judge Alito must be, as well. There’s no evidence of that, of course, in his rulings. Nonetheless, at midweek Sen. Kennedy attempted to use parliamentary tactics to shut down Alito’s hearings until the committee could review a few boxes of documents that may -- or may not -- even mention CAP or Alito.

That would have been a shame. We ought not shut these hearings down; we ought to extend them.

As liberal after liberal returned to asking Alito about CAP and about memos he’d written during the Reagan administration, it became ever-more obvious they had nothing to say about the very thing that should matter: His record and judicial philosophy. Even when they did touch on actual cases, some liberals showed how out of touch they are.

Asking about a discrimination case, Sen. Biden lectured, “What I do wonder about is, whether or not -- it’s presumptuous of me to say this -- whether you fully appreciate how discrimination does work today.” Now, Biden was elected to the Senate before he was old enough to sit in it -- he turned 30 between Election Day and his swearing in. He’s spent virtually his entire professional life writing the laws that govern the rest of us.

So when Sen. Biden talks about the “real world,” he’s talking about something he has very little experience with. In the world of the Senate, liberals want to ignore the fact that Alito’s been doing a job for 15 years, and is obviously qualified for a promotion to the Supreme Court. Instead, they want to judge him on his job application from 1985 -- an application for a different job. Small wonder that Americans are regularly disappointed in the job performance of our political leaders.

Sen. Kennedy seemed to sum up the opinion of many liberals, that the United States today is a very dark place. “In an era when too many Americans are losing their jobs or working for less, trying to make ends meet, in close cases Judge Alito has ruled the vast majority of the time against the claims of the individual citizens,” he intoned.

Talk about somebody who’s out of touch. Federal courts have nothing to do with providing jobs to “average Americas,” something most of us understand.

We do need a “conversation” about where this country is going. Sadly, liberals -- even when they talk a lot -- don’t have much to say about that. So when the shouting dies down, Samuel Alito will soon be having other conversations -- with his fellow Supreme Court members.