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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, October 31, 2005

Take that, it's Alito!

(This story is too important not to keep atop the Halloween Costumes post, but check that out below too!)

After the near-catastrophic appointment of White House counsel, and personal Bush family lawyer, Harriet Miers, today the President of the United States nominates

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.



As his true, genuine, and decisive nominee for the SCOTUS.

Like most people who are not Constitutional experts, I was willing to give Harriet Miers her chance to wow me at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

I was not pro-Miers, nor anti-Miers.

This despite being in the minority on Blogosphere at not having an instant aversion or peace-of-mind suddenly overwhelm me at the very thought of her appointment.

But, again like most people with an unvested interest in the matter, I was also quite concerned at the judicial gravitas Miss Miers so obviously lacked.

Her past associations, such as being almost a lifelong Democrat, which could be excused because of an historic Dixiecrat link...

Her wavering stance on being pro-abortion for most of her life, until her born-again Christianity changed her heart...

Her aftertaste of cronyism this appointment left on the palate...

Her unremarkable intellect (her most incisive commentaries in margins of notes seemed to be "Cool!", wincingly bad, compared to the dry wit and monumental grasp of law exhibited in the same, by now Chief Justice Roberts)...

All these reasons made me reconsider my neutrality.

But the most important shift in my mind, was the obvious disgust exhibited by Conservatives at this nomination.

It almost rent asunder Blog relationships, the political commentating world, and core-supportership of these centre-rightists for three weeks.

It was visceral.

Primarily, though it showed that Conservatives were not goose-stepping behind just everything President Bush did.

What one Party, with jealous eyes, calls slavish devotion, the other side can lay claim to loyalty, and commonality of purpose.

They wish they had that unity of philosophy rather than just hatred of a person to unite them.

But the Miers nomination tore into that self-perception most horribly.

It was, as I said at that time, an appointment made out of weakness:

  • A woman to replace SDO


  • An acceptable appointee to the Democrats, to avoid a protracted SJC fight


  • A non-perceptibly originalist candidate; merely a "born again Christian Conservative"


  • That Conservatives would have these qualms is normal.

    But what I perceived is that average Americans, many of whom are not particularly political, and who voted for President Bush in 2004 merely because they judged him to have character and leadership, unpopular though his decisions may be, saw him for the first time flinch, and pander to the other side.

    It doesn't matter what side. The mere fact that he did so was reason enough to reconsider their judgement of him.

    That's when I started to sour on Miers.

    If truth be told, I do not much care for polls, but I am a huge believer in feeling the pulse of average Americans.

    I'm not an average American. I am too foreign, too carefully educated, yes, alas too well-heeled.

    So I paid attention to this recoil-effect Miers had on the "just folks" and realised the appointment was not going to fly where it counted most.

    Again, I am not interested in people loving Judge Alito, or hating him.

    What I'll be paying attention to, in my daily rounds, always keeping my ears open, is whether they feel confident the President chose someone out of conviction.

    That's what they elected him to do, after all.

    Today, he repaid their confidence in him.

    He paid them back. At last.

    (This story will be updated throughout the day. I will be listening to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR shortly. I predict the first question she will ask is about Alito being called "Scalito" because of his alleged judicial resemblence to Antonin Scalia. We'll see)

    UPDATE: Diane Rehm is out until Wednesday, but her replacement started the broadcast by saying last week, in which I was completely unable to watch cable news due to Hurricane Wilma, was the worst week in President Bush's two administrations. With respect, nothing can come close to the week of 9/11.

    As I linked to above, Sam Alito has already been Wiki'ed. But here's a Trivial Pursuit tidbit for you.

    Alito was born on April Fool's Day. And appointed to the SCOTUS on Halloween Day.

    Now all we need, for non-formal holiday symmetry, is his confirmation on Groundhog Day.

    Seeing as how just everyone realises this appointment will take a very long time to confirm, because the opposing Party in the Senate will no doubt filibuster it, and we have three official holidays in between (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's), it'll certainly take as long as 2 February before he's in.

    UPDATE: Some curious factoids for you.

    Name: Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.
    Born: April 1, 1950 in Trenton, New Jersey
    Family: Almost all are attorneys. His mother, Rose, 91, lives in Hamilton, NJ, still and she fielded questions on her son beamingly today. His late father, Samuel Sr., was the director of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services. His sister Rosemary, with whom he tag-teamed in the High School Debate team, is a top employment lawyer in their home state. He's married to Martha-Ann Bomgartner, and they have two children: Philip, who is in college, and was very visible near his dad today at the Rosa Parks memorial, and Laura, who is still in High School.
    Education: Princeton University, B.A. 1972 and Yale Law School, J.D., 1975
    Hobbies: Gourmet cook. Tennis. Music. And is a Philadelphia Phillies nut (I suppose he was born too late to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, or a New York Giants one, since obviously he didn't go with the Yankees. I like him already).

    BACKGROUND UPDATE: Renato, my able co-blogger last week, was able to unearth some background info on Judge Alito's Italian background (see the comments). Being himself of Italian origin, albeit an uninvolved Canadian one, he was curious to investigate where the Judge's Italian provenance was from. Alito's still spry-mother, Rose, was born Fradusco, which Renato researched as coming from the Basilicata region. But the Ellis Island records, where a New Jersey lad may credibly trace his ancestry, was cagey in coughing up names. Alito was present in 7 or 8 entries, including from Argentina, Finland, and Turkey (!), as well as featuring badly-spelt Italian cities. But then we found out that Samuel A. Alito, Sr. was HIMSELF from Italy. So Judge Alito is able to realise the über-classic American Dream -- from immigrant to Supreme Court nominee, and possibly, Justice in one generation. Fantastic!

    I just saw his, may I say, flattering profile on CNN, who were unusually positive in tone, which is rare about anything related to the Republicans.

    Though he keeps his offices in New Jersey, being a thoroughly New Jersey kind of guy, apparently, he works in Philadelphia. This obviously explains his allegiance to the Phillies, but if he grew up to be such a baseball nutter as a kid, I wonder who was his childhood team of choice?

    Here's the now famous Princeton Yearbook entry, which Senator Bill Frist quoted today, during Alito's public meet-and-greet.



    What nuggets of info can the casual reader glean from this?

    Like many men of substance, he was rather geeky as a young man (Debate Club President). He's blossomed, and lost the big black specs for a pair of sleek Armani ones, for one.

    Note also, in the middle of the counter-culture revolution going on around him, he kept his high-and-tight haircut, cutting a very sober dash for the times. Even the socially-conservative, Michael Medved, his contemporary at Yale, grew a beard and let his hair grow out back then.

    The photo of him at the very top shows him being much porkier than he is now, too.

    Today's snaps, which are making the rounds everywhere, and are already being manipulated (sigh), show him much leaner, and even younger, than the first one I posted above. He must've cut down on the gourmet cookery.



    Continuing with the Yearbook info, he speaks fluent Italian, since his thesis is called La Corte Costituzionale Italiana, which he researched in the cafes of Rome and Bologna (obviously a dig at his student travelling ways back in 1971).

    Likewise, his fellow Princetonians recognised that however much of an inside joke proclaiming he might one day warm a Supreme Court bench, it's like Jack Kennedy rigging his "Most Likely To Succeed" nomination at Choate.

    Wish-fulfillments, maybe, but they sure panned out, didn't they?

    And finally, the Yearbook lists his parents' full address. Much more innocent times.

    Speaking of which, his confirmation in the year 2005/6 won't be a cakewalk, like in the 1980's and 1990's, as with Justices Scalia and Ginsburg.

    They received unanimous or near-unanimous confirmations.

    This man, of whom his Yale Law School classmates called Silent Sam, and is renowed apparently for being polite, smart, and kind, will be picked over like carrion by the opposing side of the political divide.

    In the language of baseball, which continues to follow these nominations, as it did with Roberts, I think they will find Sam Alito is a "tough out".

    FINAL UPDATE: Paula Zahn used my April Fool's/Halloween quote on her show! Dagnabbit. Where's my Hat Tip?

    ABSOLUTE FINAL UPDATE: John McCain is on Hannity & Colmes as I type, and he says that the famed Gang of Fourteen will be meeting in his Senate office on Thursday. The outcome of that meeting may determine if the Senate will have a lengthy fight over the nomination. McCain's feeling is that actually, however much certain people want it, he thinks this monimation may not cause such a big ruckus. And you know what? I have a funny feeling he's right about this. I see opposition, sure, but not the knock-down, drag-out fight some people are spoiling for.

    15 Comments:

    • You are a good pulse-taker!
      You've described me as I feel and felt about President Bush and Harriet Miers. Although the President wants a up or down vote by years end, I too will be surprised if he gets that. Come Thanksgiving, we won't see hide nor hair of Congress until probably after The Super Bowl, about two weeks before your deadline.
      You are one smart woman. Again.

      By Blogger Paul, at Mon Oct 31, 12:11:00 pm GMT-5  

    • You are a good pulse-taker!
      You've described me as I feel and felt about President Bush and Harriet Miers. Although the President wants a up or down vote by years end, I too will be surprised if he gets that.


      I'd be flabbergasted if it's before the Christmas break.

      We might have the hearings then, but not the full Senate vote.

      Good catch about the Super Bowl, Paul, though. ;)

      Come Thanksgiving, we won't see hide nor hair of Congress until probably after The Super Bowl, about two weeks before your deadline.

      I forget when the official recess starts, but it should be soon.

      The Queen opens Parliament this week, and I believe they take their hols mid-December to mid-January.

      You are one smart woman. Again.

      Hah! Pander to my vanity!

      It'll get you everywhere. :)

      P.S.: Nah, as I said, it's just me keeping my eyes and ears open. And my number one concern, is the spirit of the American people. When it's down, I want to know why -- so we can fix it.

      I spent all this weekend questioning people here in Miami/Miami Beach, about their own perceptions of how the Hurricane was handled by the State/Local/Fed government.

      Their opinion means much more to me, than anything MSM dishes out, from the right-or-left.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Oct 31, 03:28:00 pm GMT-5  

    • The Queen opens Parliament this week, and I believe they take their hols mid-December to mid-January.

      I knew I had left something out of the equation.

      I spent all this weekend questioning people here in Miami/Miami Beach, about their own perceptions of how the Hurricane was handled by the State/Local/Fed government.

      I'm hoping this will lead to a post please, will it?

      By Blogger Paul, at Mon Oct 31, 06:02:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I like Alito!!! I think he will be confirmed and that there will be no filibuster thanks to the gang of 14!

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Mon Oct 31, 07:53:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I still find the whole process of nomination to the Supreme Court and length of term of office astringent.

      Far too political, far too many vested interests. That either side shoudl rejoice at a nomination is a clarion call to beware of what you may be about to receive.

      The arbitary length of office based on the daily tête-à-tête between the appointee's bodily nurturing and naturing is surely an anachronism. President's have fixed terms; so should Supreme Court judges.

      The shameful hounding of Miers should have seen the launching of a thousand blogs in her defence as happened with the Bright Eyes Scandal of last week.

      A nominee to me should always be able to have their day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Relying on hearsay and certain opinion formers to judge anyone's character is laziness writ large, and that is exactly what we have seen in the last few weeks from the majority of commentators. It's as if they're afraid of the public forming their own opinion on the original nominee.

      Bush gains no credit by nominating Alito now, no matter how appropriate or successful he may turn out to be as an SCJ. If he had confidence in his Presidency, confidence in those around him, and confidence in his own judgement then Alito should have been his first nomination.

      Steve

      By Blogger block108er, at Mon Oct 31, 08:54:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'm hoping this will lead to a post please, will it?

      You betcha. :)

      Just wait one more week, on Monday or Tuesday, to make it a full fortnight after the dread Hurricane Wilma hit us.

      It's important, I find, to step back from an event, to judge how it played out with the locals.

      The big problem with instant MSM, is that all-too often, alas, they have to report as they go.

      And they just get too many things wrong on the fly, forever damaging reputations.

      I'll make sure I present a cogent local wrap-up of Wilma, as best I can then.

      Thanks for the request though, Paul. I love them. :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Oct 31, 09:12:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I like Alito!!! I think he will be confirmed and that there will be no filibuster thanks to the gang of 14!

      If possible, I like Alito more than Roberts too.

      He has more "carne" to him, you know? :)

      A little more to chew on, in his private and professional life.

      OTOH, Roberts has the perfect judicial demeanour to be SCOTUS Chief Justice -- one can't take away that from him.

      It's prescient that you mentioned the Gang of 14, Jose, since I just updated the blog with their mention.

      Stay tuned on Thursday...

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Oct 31, 09:15:00 pm GMT-5  

    • You say A-lee-toe, I say A-light-o,
      Reps say "he's neat-o," Dems say "too right-o,"
      Don't they
      know they
      need each other so,
      Oh, let's call the whole thing off!


      h/t to Mr. Gershwin, via Fred and Ginger...

      By Blogger Ron, at Mon Oct 31, 09:20:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I still find the whole process of nomination to the Supreme Court and length of term of office astringent.

      Far too political, far too many vested interests. That either side shoudl rejoice at a nomination is a clarion call to beware of what you may be about to receive.


      I understand what you mean, as the moment I heard Kennedy and Schumer were opposed to Alito, I was instantly comforted.

      Anyone they like, I will not, simply based on my personal beliefs and how they do not jibe with theirs.

      The arbitary length of office based on the daily tête-à-tête between the appointee's bodily nurturing and naturing is surely an anachronism. President's have fixed terms; so should Supreme Court judges.

      But my dear Steve, eloquent though your words are, and I can see your logic, I think this "vitalicio" appointment is one of the true genius hallmarks of the Founding Fathers.

      Once appointed, only death or impeachment can take your job away from you.

      And it's precisely this judicial freedom that has stymied Republicans in the past, when they found their appointees reneging on their alleged philosophical viewpoints before.

      This has to be of some comfort to those in opposition now.

      The shameful hounding of Miers should have seen the launching of a thousand blogs in her defence as happened with the Bright Eyes Scandal of last week.

      Hugh Hewitt, and Beldar tried. The Anchoress did too, bless her.

      But she was just not worth the ink, and I say that fully aware of how rude it sounds.

      A nominee to me should always be able to have their day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Relying on hearsay and certain opinion formers to judge anyone's character is laziness writ large, and that is exactly what we have seen in the last few weeks from the majority of commentators.

      I actually agree with that.

      It's as if they're afraid of the public forming their own opinion on the original nominee.

      Could be. But more likely, they realised she just wasn't up to it, legally.

      She couldn't answer basic questions of government, mixing up proportional representation with first-past the post elections.

      Come on. That's just bush league, pun intended. ;)

      Bush gains no credit by nominating Alito now, no matter how appropriate or successful he may turn out to be as an SCJ. If he had confidence in his Presidency, confidence in those around him, and confidence in his own judgement then Alito should have been his first nomination.

      Nah.

      People always say he cannot admit mistakes (that's because if he does, MSM will lynch him three-times as much; he literally has to watch his every step).

      He admitted it. And he learnt from it.

      I don't think he'll pull this stunt again when another SCOTUS nomination comes (Breyer/Ginsburg/Kennedy).

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Oct 31, 09:23:00 pm GMT-5  

    • h/t to Mr. Gershwin, via Fred and Ginger...

      Hey Ron, good to see you around. ;)

      As for Gerschwin, I was always a Cole Porter gal myself.

      "You're tops, you're the Colisseum. You're the tops, you're a Democrats scarum".

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Oct 31, 09:25:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Hey Ron, good to see you around. ;)

      Victoria! You're in my regular rotation! I may not always post, but I always read! It's delightful to see your blog getting better each time I read it. Good to see you post through the brief shower all y'all had down there... ;-o

      By Blogger Ron, at Mon Oct 31, 10:43:00 pm GMT-5  

    • After hearing Alito was his last name I googled around but didn't find much on it's origins. It seems to be an unusual and rare last name in Italy.

      That lead me to look up a few ellis island records here: http://www.ellisisland.org/search/matchMore.asp?MID=10187360290262310560&LNM=ALITO&PLNM=ALITO&first_kind=1&kind=exact&offset=0&dwpdone=1
      Interesting! There seem to be more non-Italian origins than Italian.

      His mother's maiden name is apparently Fradusco which is an easier search: http://www.ellisisland.org/search/matchMore.asp?MID=10187360290262310560&LNM=FRADUSCO&PLNM=FRADUSCO&first_kind=1&kind=exact&offset=0&dwpdone=1
      Origins in Palazzo San Gervasio near Potenza in the Basilicta region of Southern Italy.

      By Blogger Renato, at Mon Oct 31, 11:33:00 pm GMT-5  

    • He voted in favor of partial birth abortion as a fundamental right.
      .
      He voted in favor of partial birth abortion as a fundamental right.
      .
      It doesn’t matter why or how. The plain simple fact is that he voted in favor of partial birth abortion as a fundamental right. We don’t need to go any further than that. There can be and is no good excuse or reason for doing so. Ever. And there is no explaining it away.
      .
      Now, you all can say that he was compelled to do it. In the face of all logic and simple human decency, and despite the fact that the oath he swore was to uphold the Constitution, which is more than Supreme Court precedent and which does not say that murder is a right, you will say that he was forced to stand on the side of the butchers because the Supreme Court made him do it. Just like the judges in antebellum America were forced to return fugitive slaves, just like judges in 1930s Germany were forced to sterilize Jews and send them to concentration camps, because a bunch of judges above them (who think themselves to be “the law,”) said so, notwithstanding the fact that all human decency cries out against it.
      .
      But the fact is that it is quite apparent that he didn’t even try to distinguish the N.J. case from Stenberg. He made no attempt to find a way to uphold the N.J. partial birth abortion law. He even rejected a request that the N.J. state courts be allowed to interpret the N.J. law before he struck it down. He made no analysis of the issue at all — he simply summarily, casually, and coldly upheld partial birth abortion as a fundamental right.
      .
      And we are supposed to turn a blind eye to this??? We are supposed to simply trust those intellectual superiors at NRO? Anyone who can ever vote in favor of partial birth abortion — for any reason whatsoever — anyone who can allow himself to be personally involved in abortion, who can cooperate with and participate in such evil, as he did, is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court or to sit on any court anywhere, even if he does have a fancy degree from an Ivy League school — and especially if he calls himself a Catholic.
      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20021124_politica_en.html

      By Anonymous Bender, at Tue Nov 01, 12:30:00 am GMT-5  

    • I updated the blog with the background info, Ren. Thanks! :)

      Now, for something less cheerful and pleasing.

      I usually don't do this, because I don't want to give people who spout these obscenities any traffic, but check this well-named rant against Alito's Italian origins.

      Maybe it's me. Maybe I have plain bad luck to go on Daily Kos and find the filthiest-languaged posts ever written on blogosphere by a well-known political blogger, but I SWEAR TO YOU, whenever I go there, I have the misfortune of coming across such demented drivel.

      Ugh.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 01, 12:43:00 am GMT-5  

    • Anyone who can ever vote in favor of partial birth abortion — for any reason whatsoever — anyone who can allow himself to be personally involved in abortion, who can cooperate with and participate in such evil, as he did, is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court or to sit on any court anywhere, even if he does have a fancy degree from an Ivy League school — and especially if he calls himself a Catholic.

      Frankly Bender, I haven't checked if this is true, but also, to me, anti-abortion is not the ONLY reason I want an originalist on the SCOTUS.

      If that's your particular beef, then that's your concern.

      As for me, as a future medical doctor, who will take a Hippocratic Oath to save a life, I know I may be faced with the untenable decision to abort a foetus one day, if the situation called for it.

      I am a Roman Catholic. A happy, and faithful Catholic at that.

      And yet, it's something I MAY have to deal with one day.

      How does this make me feel?

      Awful.

      But that's me, the person speaking. Not me, the professional.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 01, 04:46:00 am GMT-5  

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