Your Lying Eyes

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06 December 2005

The Alito Nomination: Here We Go Again

Like John Roberts before him, Samuel Alito seems poised to present himself as the second coming of David Souter. "Me - a conservative?! Pshaw - I was just blowin' smoke for them Reagan boys!" Maybe that's why Bush nominated Harriet Miers - he figured it would be a lot less exhausting nomination if the nominee didn't actually have any principles to hide. At any rate, as much as I hate to admit it because he's so annoying, E.J. Dionne has a really good column making this point.
You would think that Alito and his supporters would welcome a principled discussion of Roe. In fact, they want to change the subject. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Alito about that letter seeking a promotion, she said he told her: "First of all, it was different then. . . . I was an advocate seeking a job. It was a political job. And that was 1985."
The problem is that you can't be a conservative and support Roe - that decision was offensive to conservative philosophy at every imaginable level. While you wouldn't want to establish a litmus test for a SCOTUS nominee, you could really establish a litmus test for conservatism based on the question "Do you think Roe was an awful decision?" Any answer milder than "Yes!" should raise serious doubts about the questionee's conservative pedigree. That doesn't mean that a conservative couldn't work around Roe without overturning it today - but he can't accept its "reasoning." But then even the mere suggestion that he thinks Roe to be problematic will unleash on Alito the righteous hounds of the left in all their fury. The ensuing uproar will, if nothing else, raise the risk level of the proceedings.

Much easier just to dance around it, not say anything that could arouse the public - by this calculus, it's better to risk the certainty of appearing disingenous than to risk being honest and quoted out of context. And so we'll have another frustrating round of hearings - frustrating for liberals who can't get a straight answer to simple questions, and frustrating for conservatives who have to pretend they don't believe the principles they actually hold.


Blogger Russell Wardlow said...

Hell, Ruth Bader friggin' Ginsburg has said that Roe's reasoning was bad. She's still a radical in favor of the result (indeed, she would even, I think, fall on the side of mandatory fed funding for abortions), but on different grounds than the case held.

December 07, 2005 12:38 AM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

What goes around, comes around. The post 911 liberal-bashing chickens are coming home to roost. Hard-core conservatism isnĀ“t so popular these days and there is no better litmus test than Roe. Everyone knows where Alito stands on that issue so the righties are trying to skirt that issue long enough to get him confirmed. Then, goodbye Roe. Better start saving those metal coat hangers that are good for more than getting into your car when you lock your keys inside.

December 07, 2005 3:17 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Now Jimbo you know full well that if Roe were overturned tomorrow almost nothing would change. I'd be shocked if even Alabama did anything more dramatic than ban 3rd trimester abortions (for which coat hangers are useless).

December 07, 2005 6:46 PM  

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