Saturday, January 14, 2006

On the Alito Hearings

I only got to listen to the Alito hearings from NPR while driving, so I only got snapshots of the questioning. However, the smartest thing said in all of this noise was when Biden said that having hearings anymore is a waste of time. Amen to that. One side is looking to use cross examination techniques to try and trip up the nominee, and the other is looking to find any way to excuse the accusations. Nowhere in the process is there any real desire to find any useful information.
This is not to say that I support Alito. A president should be given a certain amount of deference in their choices, but Alito's hyper caution in answering (or not answering) questions makes me more than a little worried.
Some of the questions should have been a slam dunk. For instance, when Durbin asked if the right to an abortion is in the Constitution, he should have answered: It is a right that is derived from the right to privacy, which is itself a right derived from the 4th, 5th and 1st Amendments, but no, it is not explicitly in the Constitution.
I did like his answer on why he voted against including a coal heap as a mine, when he said that the laws needed to be construed narrowly. Durbin was incensed, but it makes sense. If Congress feels that a court is not covering all that they want, they can fix it. If on the other hand the courts start to get too broad in their interpretaion, it is more difficult to rein them in. The role of the courts is to limit their interpretation, not to confer new rights. That is the role of the legislative bodies.
The other interesting thing about the hearings, was the desire to have Alito like Roberts before him declare that abortion is settled law. If it was so darned settled, why are we still arguing over it? In fact, by the high percentage of questions relating to abortion are a measure, the issue is not settled at all, and the Democratic senators know and recognize this. Abortion is one of those fun moral dilemmas where good people can come down on either side. Unfortunately, both sides seem to treat the other as evil and despicable. Does little to really address the problem, but it make each side feel good about themselves, and hey, that must be important right?
The whole CAP business seems to me to be a non-issue. But the idea that CAP is some sort of bigotted group would have been better if the actual evidence was presented. A friend told me that the article in question is really a parody. Don't know if that is true, but no one has shown it not to be either.
But getting back to the point, let's recognize that since Bork, there realy is little need for these type of hearings, except to stroke the egos of the senators who get to be on tv. Let's quit wasting time, and raising blood pressure levels and just send the nominee to the full senate for a vote.

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