Throughout the confirmation process, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has had difficulty standing by his words and taking responsibility for his actions.
For example, when he was nominated to a federal appeals court in 1990 he promised the Senate that he would recuse himself from any case involving the investment firm Vanguard because of his substantial investments with the company. In 2002, he ruled on a case involving Vanguard anyway.
Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Alito has made excuses. In a letter sent to Alito yesterday, Sen. Ted Kennedy documented six different excuses Alito has floated to avoid taking responsibility. Here’s a summary:
1. It wasn’t really a promise. He was free to dissolve his responsibility at anytime.
2. It was an oversight.
3. It was OK because the specific investments he owned were not at issue.
4. It was OK because he “voluntarily” recused himself once a complaint was filed.
5. It was a “harmless error.”
6. It didn’t matter because the defendant was representing herself.
These excuses are contradictory and irrelevant. But biggest concern is not that his excuses are bad but that he’s taken the time to make so many. It is essential for Supreme Court justices accept accountability for their words and actions. Alito has shown he has trouble doing either.
The right’s latest campaign to build public support for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito? Convincing you he’s the Christmas candidate.
The right-wing Commitee for Justice yesterday began airing a radio ad in Colorado, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, trying to convince conservatives that he will lead the fight against the so-called “War on Christmas.” As slingshot.org notes, the Committee was formed at the behest of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Karl Rove to funnel business money into the Supreme Court fight. From the ad:
It’s the season when Americans celebrate our traditions of faith … and once again religious freedom is under assault. … Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito, President Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution’s protection of free religious expression. [Listen to the ad here]
Right-winger Jay Sekulow, who has helped the White House with its Supreme Court nominee strategy and chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, has created his own Christmas resource center and hints that more ads pairing Alito and Christmas and attacking Alito’s critics as “anti-God” may be forthcoming:
This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year-the convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression.
Evidently the “well qualified” conservative argument wasn’t working well.
And from an interview with Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. David Price (D-NC), and Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME), on Congressional ethics:
THINK PROGRESS: Our last question – why isn’t Roy Blunt as effective a leader as Tom DeLay?
OBEY: Well, there was a reason Tom DeLay was referred to as “The Hammer” because Tom didn’t just lead by persuasion, he led by intimidation, he led by muscle. I mean, this is a man who would bring in outside lobby groups in and trade associations and tell them that if they wanted attention and access, they had better hire Republicans in their operation. He created a marriage between K Street lobbying operations and the Capitol and Pennsylvania Avenue and that made him very formidable even as it gutted what democracy was supposed to be able to produce.
ALLEN: I would say it’s too early to say how effective Roy Blunt is, but clearly, the ruthlessness of a Tom DeLay has had a huge impact on the way the House has been run. Of course, right now, Roy Blunt’s going to deal with the fact that opinions of this Republican Congress are in the tank, and there are Republicans who, just as I said before, are really anxious, they’re afraid they’re going to lose their own elections – so it’s a hard group to manage. This is all the result of an underlying philosophy that we’re not going to deal with Democrats, we’re only going to rely on Republicans, and we’re going to force cohesion when it doesn’t even exist in many cases.
PRICE: Roy Blunt’s got his hands full. I mean, this is an agenda – a terrible way to try to start out a leadership career, cutting food stamps, and Medicaid, and student loans, and child support, while you’re at the same time giving tax breaks for dividends and capital gains – goodness, that’s a nightmare, for any leader. And the notion that Tom DeLay could pull this off, I’m not sure is correct. But, anyway, it’s Roy Blunt’s bad luck to be coming in just as President Bush’s popularity goes south, and conservatives are trying this power play to do all these draconian cuts to the most vulnerable people in society and Roy Blunt’s being asked to deliver on this. He’s guilty of, if nothing else, of bad timing, of trying to pull this off. But the notion that DeLay could come in here and do it – I’m not sure even DeLay could manage this.
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