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Published:January 17th, 2006 05:59 EST
The Alito Hearings: Looking Back

The Alito Hearings: Looking Back

By Joey O'Donnell

Now that the main arguments and questions have been asked in the Alito hearings, in retrospect, when looking back on them, both political parties were not particularly notable.  Here is a look at a few substantial problems that went wrong.

The Democrats entered the hearings with a— at the time— pretty clear-cut agenda.  That was to portray Alito as an individual who was extreme and out of the political and judicial mainstream on issues such as abortion, states rights, federalism, and the power of the president to order surveillance.

Unfortunately for them, Alito left them with little to work with.  There were two ways Alito would answer the questioned asked to him.  One was, “I said this, but didn’t mean this”.  The other answer— usually to the questions that were very opinionated or considered tough in the eyes of democrats— would be an artful evasion of the question.

The Democrats wrongfully thought that if they could get him to answer the contemporary questions—concurrent to the views he expressed in the past, then the public would turn against him in a way that would make it easier for some Democrats and moderate Republicans to vote against him.

To abortion, Alito said little, but he did support the constitutional right to privacy.  To presidential power, Alito stated that no one is above the law and no one is below the law, and that the President must follow the constitution.  To the Concerned Alumni of Princeton-– a group that was against the admissions of females and minorities to Princeton-- that Alito put down on his Reagan Administration application that he had no specific recollection of the group, and if he was a member, he did not attend meetings nor he was involved in any group activity.

Now, that may have seemed a little tough on the Democrats, but they were simply doing their jobs.  One could argue that their ferocity and ruthlessness was unnecessary, but they were lucidly questioning Alito on issues that, without any explanation, are obfuscatory.

Senator Spector was upfront and crisp with his questioning, so I will exclude him from the analysis of the Republican Party’s interrogations.  Contrary to Spector were extremely conservative Republicans who simply would not ask anything in depth or challenge Alito’s aforementioned views.

The Republicans had their minds concretely set when entering the hearings, differing from the Democrats, who actually listened for explanations Alito gave on the questionable topics, and looking for a reason to change their minds.  Predictably, all the Republicans did was praise Alito’s judicial qualifications for the job.  The slang term for this would be “sucking up”.