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Move past Supreme Court debate

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2006

OK, it's over. Judge Alito has been confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Time to move on.

As a liberal upset with some of the court's recent cases (e.g., Bush v. Gore), I wasn't happy with Judge Alito's nomination, and I worry about the direction that he and Chief Justice Roberts may take the court. But my candidate for president didn't win in 2004; Bush did. And since the American people, in their wisdom (or lack thereof), made him the president, he is entitled to select candidates for all levels of the federal judiciary who share his judicial philosophy. (As Sen. Spector, the Judiciary Committee chair, asked one of the anti-Alito witnesses, if we reject him, who do you think we're going to get next? There were clearly much worse potential nominees out there.) Judge Alito was undoubtedly well-qualified for his new position. And to say that well-qualified candidates should be rejected because of a nonextreme judicial philosophy (and Judge Alito's philosophy plainly isn't extreme) is to advocate gridlock whenever there is a liberal Senate and a conservative president, or vice versa.

One thing that bothered me greatly about the recent debate was the idea that some people floated that since the seat being filled would be replacing swing justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Bush had to nominate a moderate who would decide cases like Justice O'Connor. God help us if Supreme Court seats start being seen as belonging to a certain ideological persuasion. If the Democrats retake the White House in 2008 and Justice Scalia retires, would the new president be obligated to appoint a Scalia clone to the court? Hardly. "To the victors belong the spoils," and judicial appointments are part of the spoils belonging to a successful candidate for president.

John Gaguine

Juneau



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