President Bush has just nominated Samuel Alito to fill the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Justice O’Connor:
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush has nominated conservative judge Samuel Alito to replace moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his political base, officials said Monday.
The choice was likely to spark a political brawl. Unlike the nomination of Harriet Miers, which was derailed by Bush’s conservative allies, Alito faces opposition from liberal Democrats.
Bush made the announcement at 8 a.m. EST. Wasting no time, the White House arranged for Alito to go to the Capitol after the announcement.
The schedule called for Senate Majority Leader Bill First to greet him and accompany the nominee to the Capitol Rotunda to go to the coffin of the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.
So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed “Scalito” or “Scalia-lite” by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.
The White House hopes the choice mends a rift in the Republican Party caused by the failed nomination of Miers, a Bush loyalist, and puts his embattled presidency on a path to political recovery.
There are many others far more qualified to comment on the qualifications and qualities of this appointment and I’ll link to them throughout the day. However, I do think I’m competent to comment on the politics.
For me the question is whether Alito will be considered outside the mainstream by the Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee (or an extraordinary circumstance by the 14 moderates). With the 2006 midterms approaching and smelling blood in the water with the Libby indictment, my guess is they will. It won’t be a bright day for the Republic.
Perhaps I’m underestimating the statesmanship of my fellow-Democrats. I doubt it. Oh, well. It will be interesting to hear Patrick Leahy and Edward Kennedy lecturing us on the mainstream. Judging by their speeches and voting records they’re not outside the mainstream themselves but they’re certainly in the shallows.
There will be no hiding Alito’s pro-life stand and all that money that was held back in the Roberts confirmation will be flying around freely. It’s going to be an interesting holiday season.
Jeff Quinton of Backcountry Conservative has a list of links to people posting on the nomination.
Jack Balkin of Balkinization notes:
No doubt many Democrats will oppose this nomination, because Alito appears to be a critic of Roe v. Wade. At the same time, Alito has excellent credentials. And, unlike Harriet Miers he is also not a crony of Bush. Unless the hearings uncover a significant scandal, or demonstrate Alito’s positions are far more extreme than the available information indicates, the record of past Senate votes suggest that he has a good chance of being confirmed.
John Cole of Balloon Juice, one of the most reasonable guys in the blogosphere says:
He is young, experienced, credentialed, and qualified. I am pretty sure he is too conservative for most Democrats, and will most certainly be opposed by the advocacy groups on the left, but I do not think he will be opposed by the Gang of 14 and I think conservatives will crawl over broken glass to get him on the bench, so I give his nomination a pretty good chance.
Baseball Crank: I gather he’s really not as similar to Antonin Scalia as conservatives would like or liberals would fear .
Marshall Wittman, the Bull Moose observes:
With the nomination of “Scalito”, the political forces are arrayed for an Armageddon type court battle. After a brief diversion, the President has returned to the home base. The right is swooning and the left will be in a rage. The end of times battle has probably arrived.
Ideoblog has a substantial list of Alito’s opinions. For those interested in substance.
Ann Althouse: Why Alito is a stronger choice than John Roberts
Justin Gardner of Donklephant is troubled by the nomination.
Noah Millman of Gideon’s Blog, as usual, has wise words on the Alito nomination:
Finally: three groups from within the Right who have reason to be disappointed with Alito. First: business groups. He offers them nothing. Miers was their gal. They are going to expect the next nominee, if there is one, to be “their” pick. The social right needs to mend some fences here. Second: evangelical Christians. It’s an unfortunate fact but there are certainly people who supported Miers who think her opponents on the *Right* were casting aspersions on her religion. And Alito is another Catholic. I don’t think identity politics should have anything to do with the Court, but I’m not the only person out there. Finally: advocates of a more “Talmudic” as against “Papal” model for the Supreme Court’s role. Scalia’s Catholicism extends beyond his religious affiliation; he is a strong proponent of the notion that the Supreme Court is the final word on the interpretation of the Constitution (as against those who, in the spirit of Larry Kramer’s book The People Themselves, take the view that the Court is the final word on any one case but that every branch of government and, indeed, the American people themselves, have equal right and obligation to interpret the Constitution – honestly, of course, but independently).
Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money discusses Alito’s opinions on sovereign immunity cases and concludes:
Alito’s nomination to the Court is unacceptable, and he should not receive a single Democratic vote.
media girl does not care for Alito’s position on spousal notification.
Chris Bowers of MyDD finds that Alito’s dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey should be enough of a reason for every Democratic senator to oppose this nomination..
The Heretik has his own comments and links from left and right. He concludes THE HERETIK NOTES EVERYONE is looking for a clear win here. What may happen is everyone loses. That’s basically how I see a showdown.
Patterico is ready for battle.
Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice, of course, has a masterful link round-up and commentary of his own:
So it sounds like so far George Bush had a home run with Roberts, a strike out with Miers and a homerun/strike out depending on your party with Alito. He became a uniter (so many opposed her) on Miers and a divider (support along party lines — which means it’s Power Politics time) on Alito. But will Alito prove to be a polarizing or somewhat dividing nomination?
John Hinderaker of Powerline offers an opinion of Judge Alito’s opinions.
ProfessorBainbridge seems satisfied with the appointment: this is a solid pick that should unite the base behind it.
Jeff Goldstein of Protein Widsom present Senator Dianne Feinstein’s notes in preparation for the confirmation hearings.
Jon Henke of QandO Blog makes an important distinction: the question before Judge Alito in Planned Parenthood v. Casey was not whether women should be required to notify their husbands before seeking an abortion. It was whether such a law was constitutional or not. And isn’t that the bright line in the discussion of the role of the Court: whether you believe the Court should be setting policy or determining legality? It’s a line that doesn’t separate Democrats from Republicans but left and right radicals from everybody else.
Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House seems to be spoilin’ for a fight.
Jazz Shaw of Running Scared wonders if the initial opposition to Alito isn’t an overreaction and backs it up with some analysis.
This initial reaction [ed. i.e. strongly negative from the Left] is to be expected, as I noted earlier today. But Alito is very far from this caricature, and it won’t take people long to realize that. Reading over Alito’s opinions, the striking thing about them is how modest they are. Alito is not trying to score points, make grand ideological claims, or show the world how smart he is.