Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Joe Biden: gone fishin'

On November 6th, Biden said he believed a filibuster was unlikely, and that Alito would get an up-or-down vote.

Last night, I saw the same Yahoo! News article that Professor Bainbridge did, but I didn't have time to blog about it:
Biden: Alito's Views May Bring Filibuster

WASHINGTON - The views that Samuel Alito expressed on reapportionment in a 20-year-old document could jeopardize his Supreme Court nomination and provoke a filibuster, a leading Democratic senator said Sunday.

"I think he's got a lot of explaining to do, and depending on how he does, I think will determine whether or not he has a problem or not," said Sen. Joseph Biden, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans confirmation hearings in early January.

In 1985, Alito was applying to become deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration. In the document, he boasted that while working as an assistant to the solicitor general, he helped "to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly."

Drawing the most attention from Alito's critics today is his comment on abortion.

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government argued that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," wrote Alito, now a federal appeals court judge.

But Biden, D-Del., said he was most troubled by Alito's comment about reapportionment under the Supreme Court when it was led by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

The Warren Court, as it became known, ended public school segregation and established the election principle of one-man one-vote.

"The part that jeopardizes it (Alito's nomination) more is his quotes in there saying that he had strong disagreement with the Warren Court particularly on reapportionment — one man, one vote," Biden told "Fox News Sunday."

"The fact that he questioned abortion and the idea of quotas is one thing. The fact that he questioned the idea of the legitimacy of the reapportionment decisions of the Warren Court is even something well beyond that," Biden said.

In the document, Alito wrote, "In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause and reapportionment," he said.
Biden is full of nonsense, and he likely knows it.

Was Alito "boasting," or is mainstream media again twisting a conservative's words like they did with President Bush's? All I see is that Alito merely expressed pride in how he helped represent the interests of the federal government, i.e. his employer, in certain cases. And he happened to agree with his employer's stance. This is the same tired argument we saw with John Roberts, which didn't work then, and hopefully won't work now against Alito.

Professor Bainbridge last week gave an excellent explanation as to why opposing the specifics of the Warren Court's decision on reapportionment does not necessarily mean one opposes the principle of reapportionment. As another example, take the FEC's recent ruling that "Fired Up" is entitled to press exemptions from campaign finance reform laws. I agree with the part of the ruling that groups "Fired Up" (and presumably other bloggish sites) with the general idea of "the press," but I simultaneously see danger in such rulings: we're seeing more and more specific definitions of what "the press" is.

The Professor also wondered if mainstream media bias had anything to do with the article mentioning the irrelevant end of segregation, when Alito hadn't brought it up at all. They do it all the time to the President, so should it surprise us that they'd do it to his nominee?

In any case, Joe Biden's gone fishin' for whatever he can on Samuel Alito, but I think he needs a better lure. Nothing's biting here, and I agree with the Professor: this is nothing that would sustain a filibuster. Republicans, I feel, could get public opinion on their side when a handful of extreme Democrats are clearly looking for any reason to play politics. If anything, there weren't blogs around in 1987...right, Dan Rather?

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