As a rule of thumb, I tend to assess nominees for any post in comparison to their predecessor. Let’s test Alito, shall we?

  • Sandra Day O’Connor was part of the 5-4 majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that reiterated the right to abortion in the Constitution, and ruled that women shouldn’t have to inform their husbands of an abortion. Alito was on the appeals court that heard the case, and held the exact opposite view.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor was in the 5-4 majority in Gratz v. Bollinger that reaffirmed the constitutionality of affirmative action. Alito thinks that racist employers should be able to not hire blacks for being black.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor thought that random drug tests violated students’ right to privacy. Alito thinks that cops, without search warrants, should be able to strip-search people.
    He also thinks that medical leave laws are unconstitutional, wants to make it easier to deport legal immigrants, and likes discrimination against the disabled. This is who this guy is. No wonder he was chosen, along with John Roberts, from a Focus on Family SCOTUS wishlist. I don’t care if it takes the public eye off of Libby; this nomination is an abomination. Ezra Klein said it best: we can’t stand for a Supreme Court with more Trenton, NJ natives than women.

  • A Sign of the Times

    The Speaker of the House has a blog. Weird thing? It’s actually much, much better than most politician-blogs. Most are basically press-release-style mush that puts one to sleep. Hastert’s, however, is refreshingly straight-talking. I guess he has a safe district and thus doesn’t have much to worry about. Who knows. Anyway, I’m impressed.

    The Specter of Specter

    Mark Schmitt makes a very good point – we are very, very lucky to have Arlen Specter as the chairman of the Judiciary committee now that Supreme Court openings have occurred. Specter’s a Republican, and he did cave in and help push Clarence Thomas through the Senate, but he’s pro-choice, pro-gay, and, most importantly, he played a pivotal role in sparing us both Robert Bork in 1987 and Harriet Miers just now. Just think if Orin Hatch, Specter’s predecessor, a very-socially-conservative Mormon who supported Bork, had kept on as head. Miers might have been confirmed by now, or, lacking that, Bush’s next wingnut nominee would have slided through. Having Specter isn’t as good as having Leahy would be, but it’s close enough.


    Matt Yglesias is just having a field day with Brio, Focus on Family’s teenage publication. It’s all hilarious stuff, bordering on creepy; all I know is that I’d want someone to kill me if I ever wrote this, a letter to Brio‘s advice columnist:

    Dear Susie:
    I’m a 17-year-old guy who’s doing his best to pursue God’s plan for purity. I want to say something to Christian girls that they might not realize: The way you dress really does affect guys.
    Modesty isn’t some outdated, legalistic rule from the early church. When you wear revealing clothing, you’re adding fuel to the forbidden fire of lust in a guy’s mind that he’s trying so hard to put out.
    As men of God — and brothers in Christ — we Christian guys are commanded to respect you and to be pure with our thoughts, eyes and actions. But it would help us so much if you, as our sisters, would really think about how the way you dress influences us.
    McAllen, Texas

    Today’s News

    So, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination. I heard this much later than anyone else did; in fact, someone called me at about 5:30 to tell me. Of course, as soon as I knew, I had to tell everyone around me. That’s just how cool I am. Anyway, this could be good news or bad news. We’re basically guaranteed that Bush will be shamed into providing a much more qualified nominee. And as he’s replacing Sandra Day O’Connor, he’ll probably want a woman. Perhaps a minority. So, a highly-qualified, minority female…my God! He might nominate Janice Rogers Brown! Well, probably not; as I said before, even Bush isn’t that crazy, and as he’s expanded more than his fair share of entitlements, her anti-government-spending views might not sit well with him. So I think we’re safe in that regard. But whoever it is, they’ll probably be more reliably conservative than Miers, to assuage the as-of-recently rebellious base. While that’s something to be worried about, I’d be willing to take a halfway-competent conservative over Miers.
    The withdrawal was likely driven by Karl Rove, and as such is likely the last important political decision he’ll ever make. The grand jury’s term is up tomorrow, and is going to indict someone, most likely Rove. It also appears that Scooter Libby will get hit with more charges than Rove, including the actual charge being investigated in the first place (that is, outing a covert operative). And with more and more of the investigation centered around Cheney’s office, I don’t think it’s that unlikely that he’ll be indicted as well. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before; Spiro Agnew was indicted while in office, and forced to resign as a result. Judging as Bush and Cheney are just as, if not more, corrupt than Nixon and Agnew, they’d certainly deserve that. But back to my point. The fact is that Bush’s safety net, his main advisors, what’s keeping him functioning – it’s falling apart, thanks to the criminal justice system. Without Cheney or Rove to help him, I can’t imagine how Bush could possibly function for a minute. This means one of two things – either he gives up, resigns, and leaves the presidency to either whoever he picked as Cheney’s replacement or Dennie Hastert (neither a pleasant option), or he tries to keep governing and destroys the country further in the process. Whatever happens, it’s not going to be pretty.
    P.S. Oh, and it seems that Plamegate isn’t the only thing that Rove has to worry about.

    The World’s Finest News Source in the News

    This story‘s so bizarre that it could be in…well…The Onion:

    The White House is not amused by The Onion, a newspaper that often spoofs the Bush administration, and has asked it to stop using the presidential seal on its Web site.
    The seal was still on the Web site on Tuesday at the spot where President George W. Bush’s weekly radio address is parodied.
    With headlines like “Bush To Appoint Someone To Be In Charge Of Country” and “Bush Subconsciously Sizes Up Spain For Invasion,” The Onion is popular with readers looking for a little laughter with their politics.
    White House spokesman Trent Duffy said people who work in the executive mansion do have a sense of humor, but not when it comes to breaking regulations.
    “When any official sign or seal is being used inappropriately the party is notified,” Duffy said.
    “You cannot pick and choose where to enforce that rule. It’s important that the seal or any White House insignia not be used inappropriately,” he said.

    The Onion, of course, has exactly the right response:

    Scott Dikkers, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper, said its lawyer disagrees with the White House assessment.
    “I’ve been seeing the presidential seal used in comedy programs most of my life and to my knowledge none of them have been asked not to use it by the White House,” Dikkers said.
    “I would advise them to look for that other guy Osama (bin Laden) … rather than comedians. I don’t think we pose much of a threat,” Dikkers said.

    So true that it’s sort of depressing. Just like The Onion.

    Miers Confuses The Nation

    Now this is just weird. Here’s what Harriet Miers said about abortion in 1993:

    The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion.

    Forget how badly worded that sentence is; is it just me, or is that phrasing really biased toward reproductive rights? She continues:

    Those seeking to resolve such disputes would do well to remember that “we gave up” a long time ago on “legislating religion or morality,” she said. And “when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act.”

    What? What? This is the person who wanted to pass a constitutional amendment banning abortion, and to ban gay sex, just four years earlier. Now she’s speaking out against legislating morality, and of dealing with science instead of religion? Look, if this is what she thinks now, than I might be willing to reconsider my thoughts on her. But there are so many contradictions in her record that it’s impossible to know what she truly believes. When it comes to the Supreme Court, I’d rather know what I’m getting, even if I don’t like it, than have to deal with a mystery box.


    Ever since Cass Sunstein found that every execution deters 17 murders, I’ve been a qualified supporter of the death penalty for the most heinous of crimes (war crimes, hate crimes, etc.) But this is simply disgusting:

    The House bill that would reauthorize the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law includes several little-noticed provisions that would dramatically transform the federal death penalty system, allowing smaller juries to decide on executions and giving prosecutors the ability to try again if a jury deadlocks on sentencing.
    The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty, adding, among others, the material support law that has been the core of the government’s legal strategy against terrorism.

    Under the proposals, 41 crimes would be added to the 20 terrorism-related offenses now eligible for the federal death penalty. Prosecutors would also find it easier to impose a death sentence in cases in which the defendant did not have the intent to kill.
    In one example cited by Human Rights Watch, “an individual could be sentenced to death for providing financial support to an organization whose members caused the death of another, even if this individual did not know or in any way intend that the members engage in acts of violence.”

    If the purpose of the death penalty is deterrence, how does it make any sense to execute someone for giving money to a group that has murderers among its members, even if they did not know this? Think about it. Say a Girl Scout commits a murder. This would condemn to death anyone who had bough Girl Scout cookies (though probably not the girl). That’s just how absurd this is. I can only hope that the Senate version emerges victorious.

    Rove, Libby to Be Indicted

    That’s the word from Raw Story (via Taegan):

    Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.
    Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent.

    At least Sen. Hutchinson will be happy, at least when it comes to Libby. I find it hard to believe that Rove and Libby will be on the White House staff for long after this; they’ll probably resign voluntarily rather than humiliate their bosses by refusing to leave. I’m not sure what Bush White House without Rove will look like, but I can’t wait for it.