Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Deserves the Ginsburg Treatment

Alito Deserves the Ginsburg Treatment
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
October 31, 2005

President Bush should be applauded for not bowing to pressure groups either from the left or the right in opting instead to listen to his conscience by selecting Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to replace retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as the next justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The New Jersey native and resident is eminently qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court. An undergraduate at Princeton and law student at Yale who also served as its law journal editor, Alito argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court between 1981 and 1985 on behalf of the US government as Assistant to the Solicitor General.

Among other appointments during his career, Alito earned unanimous confirmation twice by the U. S. Senate, first to serve as U. S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, then for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Yet, in spite of these unanimous appointments, liberal Democratic Senators such as Chuck Schumer (NY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) quickly weighed in with rhetoric indicative that they have already determined to vote against Alito.

It is painfully obvious that most Democrats have a litmus test regarding high court appointments based upon abortion and Roe v. Wade. Alito is to be praised for his lone dissenting vote in 1991 as a judge on the Third U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals attempting to uphold a Pennsylvania law mandating that a wife consult with her husband prior to an abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). Yet, Alito proved to be no ideologue by voting in 2000 that a New Jersey law banning late-term abortions was unconstitutional.

In attempting to return sanity to the holiday season, Alito voted, as part of the majority in the 1999 case ACLU v. Schundler. The court determined that a display in Jersey City, NJ did not violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause because it contained not only a menorah representing Chanukah and a crèche representing Christmas, but a Frosty the Snowman and a banner praising diversity.

On the virtue of these two cases, Samuel A. Alito, Jr. should be confirmed by the U. S. Senate and take his place on the Supreme Court. How close the vote will be, remains to be seen based upon the intellectual honesty and integrity of the Democrats in the Upper House. The question that needs to be addressed is whether or not Judge Alito is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. The answer, as was the case with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, formerly with the ACLU, is yes.

Justice Ginsburg secured her seat on the Supreme Court in 1993 with a 97-3 vote in the affirmative. Obviously ideological conservatives voted in favor of a committed liberal. Some of those conservative votes came from Robert Bennett (UT), Christopher “Kit” Bond (MO), Conrad Burns (MT), Larry Craig (ID), Orrin Hatch (UT), Trent Lott (MS) and Richard Lugar (IN), all of whom continue their tenure in the US Senate. These conservative senators along with former members Phil Gramm (TX), Alan Simpson (WY) and the late Strom Thurmond (SC) among others, put partisanship behind them and determined that Justice Ginsburg possessed the necessary qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court.

Will Judge Alito be given the same honest consideration from the Democrats? Early indication from the likes of Senators Schumer and Reid is that Alito will go through a knock down-drag out confirmation process. Does any political junkie with an ounce of intelligence expect Alito to receive favorable votes from Senators Joseph Biden (DE), Barbara Boxer (CA), Hillary Clinton (NY), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Ted Kennedy (MA), John Kerry (MA), Barbara Mikulski (MD), or Barack Obama (IL)? The answer to that obviously rhetorical question is resoundingly “no.”

Yet, despite the hardcore ideological left, Judge Alito can expect to become Justice Alito by a 65-35 margin with a margin of error of three.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

[This column appeared in the Alexandria Times.]

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