The mantra that "a President is entitled to his nominee" will be repeated many times as Senators decide how to cast their votes. The premise stems from the notion that it is he who has a vested appointment power, and that the Senate should accord the President a high degree of deference when he makes he choice.
The question is this: Does this theory of entitlement prevail when the President has abused the trust of the American people?
Here is a president who has misled our nation into war, abrogated the laws duly enacted by Congress, and violated our constitutional and civil rights. He's drudged through scandal after scandal, but has yet to be held accountable. Where is Phase II of the pre-war intelligence investigation? Where is the outrage over the fact he nullified Congress' ban on torture? He violated his oath to protect the Constitution when he issued his royal edict to spy on us outside the law. Yet who will hold him responsible? A Republican Congress?
The president, exhibiting the theory of the unitary executive that Alito endorses, has snubbed the legislative and judicial branches of government and has declared himself above the law. And now, Senators will claim with straight face that he is entitled to his nominee?
The man is entitled to nothing from the Congress he has abused and misled. The man is entitled to nothing from the American people he has betrayed. It is us, the citizens of this country, who are entitled to the truth. And until we receive that truth, this nominee should not pass.
(standing and applauding)
Update (1/15): This is strikingly blunt:
Mr. Bush, however, seems to see no limit to his imperial presidency. First, he issued a constitutionally ludicrous "signing statement" on the McCain bill. The message: Whatever Congress intended the law to say, he intended to ignore it on the pretext the commander in chief is above the law. That twisted reasoning is what led to the legalized torture policies, not to mention the domestic spying program.
Then Mr. Bush went after the judiciary, scrapping the Levin-Graham bargain. (...)
Both of the offensive theories at work here - that a president's intent in signing a bill trumps the intent of Congress in writing it, and that a president can claim power without restriction or supervision by the courts or Congress - are pet theories of Judge Samuel Alito, the man Mr. Bush chose to tilt the Supreme Court to the right.
The administration's behavior shows how high and immediate the stakes are in the Alito nomination, and how urgent it is for Congress to curtail Mr. Bush's expansion of power. Nothing in the national consensus to combat terrorism after 9/11 envisioned the unilateral rewriting of more than 200 years of tradition and law by one president embarked on an ideological crusade.