Skip to comments.Alito Turns Aside Democrats' Criticism .. "If I'm confirmed I'll be myself."
Posted on 01/11/2006 4:05:38 PM PST by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito calmly turned aside Democratic attacks on his judicial record at confirmation hearings Wednesday, declaring his impartiality and saying, "If I'm confirmed I'll be myself."
He joined Senate Democrats in denouncing the positions of a controversial Princeton alumni group he once highlighted.
"I am who I am and I am my own person" said the 55-year-old appeals court judge, who would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in what has been a swing seat on the Supreme Court.
Under persistent questioning, Alito declined for a second straight day to say whether believes, as he did in 1985, that the Constitution contains no right to an abortion. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to speak about issues that could realistically come up" before the courts, he said.
Alito commands the support of all 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and while Democrats can delay his approval by the panel they cannot block it. His prospects for confirmation by the full Senate are also strong, although Democrats have not ruled out the possibility of a filibuster that could require supporters to post 60 votes.
Still, unlike Chief Justice John Roberts last fall, Alito may draw the opposition of all eight Democrats on the panel, and partisan maneuvering was evident on Wednesday.
Abortion triggered one incident. Sen. Richard Durbin (news, bio, voting record), who supports abortion rights, told Alito that his 1985 written view on abortion "does not evidence an open mind. It evidences a mind that sadly is closed in some areas."
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, saying he wanted to "razz" Durbin, soon noted that the Illinois Democrat had himself changed his mind on abortion. "For 45 years, Senator Durbin was adamantly pro-life, and he wrote multiple, multiple letters expressing that up until 1989," said Republican Coburn.
Later, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) pressed the committee's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., to subpoena records at the Library of Congress that might shed light on Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton.
"If I'm going to be denied that, I'd want to give notice to the chair that you're going to hear it again and again and again and we're going to have votes of this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution," said the Massachusetts Democrat.
Specter, bristling, said, "I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee. ... And I'm not going to have you run this committee."
The tempest proved short-lived. Specter later announced the committee would have access to the records.
Earlier, Kennedy questioned Alito sharply about the organization, which drew notice for opposing admission practices that resulted in rising numbers of women and minority students at the Ivy League school.
"If I had received any information at any point regarding any of the matters you referred to ... I would never have had anything to do with it," said Alito, who listed his membership in the group on a 1985 job application for the Reagan administration but now says he does not recall anything about it.
Outside the committee room, Kennedy was scathing.
"He can remember all 67 dissents ... in great details," he said of Alito and his judicial record. "But he can't remember anything about this organization."
Those judicial dissents drew the attention of several Democrats, as did other rulings over the course of Alito's 15-year tenure on the appeals court.
Durbin cited rulings in cases involving a black man accused of murder, a retarded man who had been sexually molested and an injury at a coal worksite.
He said that in each case, Alito had made rulings that favored the powerful at the expense of the powerless. "I find this as a recurring pattern, and it raises the question in my mind whether the average person, the dispossessed person, the poor person who finally has their day in court ... are going to be subject to the crushing hand of fate when it comes to your decisions."
Alito defended his rulings one by one, then was offered a chance for a general reply.
He cited a case in which a "high school student had been bullied unmercifully by other students in his school because of their perception of his sexual orientation, been bullied to the point of attempting to commit suicide."
The school board refused a request from the parents to move their child to a different school, but Alito said, "I wrote an opinion upholding their right to have him placed in a safe school in an adjacent municipality."
Underscoring the political significance of the nomination, Durbin had scarcely completed his 20 minutes of questioning when the nominee's supporters circulated written material titled, "A sampling of cases where Alito rules for the `Little Guy.'"
Democrats countered with a document of their own. It accused Republicans of distorting Alito's record by "citing uncontroversial cases with obvious outcomes or by distorting the facts or outcomes of the cases they cite."
Alito's views on abortion were a recurring theme for Democrats.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., picking up where Durbin had left off, asked Alito why he felt comfortable renouncing 20-year-old statements he had made questioning the principle of one person, one vote, when he wouldn't do the same on Roe v. Wade.
Alito said once again there are cases making their way through the courts on abortion.
Feinstein noted four voting rights cases currently pending that raise questions of whether the principle of one person, one vote has been violated.
"If you're willing to say that you believe one man, one vote is well settled and you agree with it, I have a hard time understanding how you separate out Roe," she said.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and his wife Martha share a laugh on the third day of his Senate confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2006. Alito faced more aggressive questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday from Democrats who accused him of evasive answers and challenged his commitment to keep an 'open mind' on abortion. REUTERS/Jim Young
Martha-Ann Alito reacts during the third day of the confirmation hearings for her husband Judge Samuel Alito as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006. Mrs. Alito reacted to the apology by Republican Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. for the contentious nature of questioning during the hearing. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) makes a point as she questions Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito during the third day of his senate confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2006. Alito sought on Wednesday to ease fears that he would seek to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, but Democrats said they were not convinced. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Republican from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter (TOP), looks down the line at three Democratic Party senators (L-R) Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Red Kennedy (D-MA) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) on the third day of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2006. Democratic party senators have criticized Alito's inability to recall details about his membership which he listed on a Reagan administration job application in the 1980's in a conservative organization that opposed the admission of women and minorities at Princeton University. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Of course, that's what they usually do, anyway. Decency is insulting to the Stalinist mob.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.,
watches Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito during intense questioning
by committee Democrats on the third day of confirmation...
If we ever needed to see evidence of the difference between liberals and conservatives, we saw it again today. When you watch how the Democrats behave, it's discouraging to think they get any votes at all. The worst our country has to offer. I think if you could force the public to watch these hearings, the Rats would get less than 10 percent of the vote.
Someone on another thread said she was actually reacting to Lindsay Graham's tearful apology to them, and his kindness made her cry.
Either way, I couldn't sit there stoically either. Who could?
After he gets sworn in, JUSTICE ALITO should walk over and challenge the Swimmer to a duel!
I heard that also on the tube,, she was touched by Graham's apology made for the ingrates that have been incessantly badgering and lecturing the Judge.
Breyer and Ginsburg were treated with decency and honor by the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats, on the other and, have no class at all. Graceless, snarling boors, every one of them.
That is the way it happened.
Judge Alito could. Talk about judicial temprement, that man shows NOTHING on his face, not even a hint of what he's thinking. He was BORN to be a judge on the USSC.
Someone should've asked Ted what he remembers about July 19, 1969.
You really have to watch the footage to understand how wonderful this will play for Alito. His wife was truly agonizing and it was obvious she highly esteems her husband. Sounds like a win/win to me. Kudos, Martha Alito for standing by your man!
Shame on Durbin, shame on Kennedy, shame on every senator who calls himself Catholic. While I am shaming, shame on the lot of them who are pro murdering babies and call themselves Christian, no matter what denomination they are. While I am shaming, shame on the Jewish senators who are for abortion, if there are any.
Where does Lieberman stand on the issue?