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Alito 01-14-06

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Extraordinary circumstances indeed By Paul
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14 9:32 AM
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      Extraordinary circumstances indeed
      By Paul Rogat Loeb
      Online Journal Contributing Writer
      Jan 3, 2006

      Remember the "nuclear option" compromise? When the group of 14
      senators reached their agreement last May, they said they'd support
      a filibuster only under "extraordinary circumstances," presumably if
      Bush nominated Attila the Hun. I'd suggest these circumstances apply
      not only to Samuel Alito's track record but also to his nomination's
      entire political context.

      In threatening to end the Senate's ability to filibuster judges,
      Republican leaders talk much about high principle, the right of
      presidents to have their nominees accepted or rejected without
      parliamentary obstructions. But the sole principle behind this
      proposed change is that of the power grab. The Republicans control
      the White House and Senate. They're attempting to consolidate
      control in every way they can, including trying to obliterate 200
      years of Senate tradition on the filibuster. This threat isn't a
      moral stand: Republicans have filibustered nominees themselves. It's
      just one more in series of attacks on individuals and institutions
      that they've viewed as political obstacles, like Tom DeLay's mid-
      census gerrymandering, the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, the
      jamming of Democratic phone banks, and the branding of political
      opponents as unpatriotic.

      Honorable conservatives used to warn against the raw power of the
      state. But the love of power has now become the political right's
      prime gospel, making the slightest notion of checks or balances
      heretical treason. Republican leaders work to end the filibuster not
      because they believe it violates some deep constitutional mandate,
      but because they believe they can get away with it.

      But maybe they can't anymore. When Republicans first floated
      the "nuclear option" threat in early 2005, Bush's polling numbers
      were as high as 57 percent. His support has dropped steadily since,
      in the wake of the Katrina disaster, the legal problems of DeLay,
      Bill Frist, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Duke Cunningham, and an
      Iraqi quagmire that's inspired powerful challenges by Cindy Sheehan
      and Congressman John Murtha. Republicans have lost key electoral
      battles in Virginia, New Jersey and California. Bush's polls have
      dropped as low as 37 percent. With once-solid Republican Senate and
      House seats now seemingly vulnerable, those who vote to eliminate
      the filibuster and confirm Alito will be taking far more of a
      political risk than they would have just a year ago.

      Were Alito a reasonable Supreme Court choice, all this would be
      moot. But he isn't. He'll follow the script and evade specifics at
      his confirmation hearings, but he's still the candidate nominated to
      appease the political right because they deemed Harriet Miers
      insufficiently hard-line.

      Consistently opposing the federal government's right to address
      corporate abuses, Alito has argued for virtually unlimited executive
      power, including the government's right to intervene in the most
      intimate realms of personal life. He's endorsed the rights of police
      to shoot an unarmed 15-year-old who was fleeing after breaking into
      a house, defended the refusal of state employers to pay damages for
      violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, and said it created no
      undue burden if husbands could prevent their wives from getting
      abortions. Citizen groups, he's ruled, have no standing to sue
      convicted polluters under the Clean Water Act. The federal
      government, he's argued, has no right to pass national consumer
      protection legislation aimed at preventing odometer fraud or banning
      the sales of machine guns. Regarding the exclusion of blacks from
      juries in death penalty cases, he's called the statistical evidence
      as inconsequential as the disproportionate number of recent U.S.
      presidents who've been left-handed. In one case, Alito's Third
      Circuit colleagues said the federal law prohibiting employment
      discrimination "would be eviscerated if our analysis were to halt
      where [Judge Alito] suggests."

      Alito now downplays his membership in a Princeton alumni group so
      hostile to the admission of women and minorities that even Senate
      Majority Leader Frist condemned it. He dismisses as mere job-seeking
      his declarations, while applying to the Reagan-era Justice
      Department, that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right
      to choose an abortion, and that he disagreed with the Warren Court
      rulings that desegregated schools and expanded voting rights. He's
      trying to dismiss the memo he wrote, after getting the job,
      embracing the "goals of bringing about the eventual overturning of
      Roe v. Wade." He also minimizes the breaking of his pledge to recuse
      himself from cases involving his sister's law firm.

      It's precisely because Alito's presence on the court is so
      potentially damaging that Democrats and moderate Republicans have a
      responsibility to challenge his nomination through every possible
      mechanism, including the filibuster. Republican leaders who try to
      eliminate it as a political option need to be branded, along with
      every senator who supports them, as embodying a politics that
      believes in nothing except its own right to power.

      With John Roberts, senators could say they were replacing the
      equally conservative William Rehnquist. To support Alito, we need to
      make clear, is to alter the balance on the court radically for the
      most dubious of political ends. It does no good to reserve the right
      to filibuster in theory. If our senators aren't willing to risk
      using it in a situation this exceptional, it becomes practically
      meaningless.

      Senators accept a president's court nominations for three reasons:
      They respect the perspectives of their nominees; they believe
      presidents should have the right to choose whomever they please as
      America's legitimately elected leaders; or they fear the president's
      political power. But this administration has no moral standing to
      which senators should automatically defer. Bush gained the
      presidency through the extraordinary interventions of his brother
      Jeb and the existing Supreme Court. He was re[se]elected based on
      lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, ties between Saddam
      Hussein and Al Qaida, John Kerry's war record, and the true costs of
      his tax cut and prescription drug plans. And through Ohio Secretary
      of State Ken Blackwell's elimination of 300,000 overwhelmingly
      Democratic voters from the Ohio rolls and the withholding of voting
      machines from key Democratic precincts.

      My friend Egil Krogh, who worked in the Nixon administration, hired
      G. Gordon Liddy, and went to prison for Watergate, told the
      sentencing judge that he and his colleagues had "almost destroyed
      democracy." The Bush people, he said to me recently, "are even more
      ruthless."

      Alito's nomination embodies that ruthlessness. If confirmed, his
      track record suggests he'd support the Republican consolidation of
      power at every opportunity. But maybe the capacity of that power to
      intimidate is finally beginning to wane. If the Senate can find the
      courage to block Alito's confirmation, they will draw a critical
      line on a choice whose effects could echo for the next 40 years.
      They need to recognize the high stakes and extraordinary
      circumstances of our time.

      Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of "The Impossible Will Take a Little
      While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear," named the
      number 3 political book of 2004 by the History Channel and the
      American Book Association, and winner of the Nautilus Award for best
      social change book of the year. His previous books include "Soul of
      a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time." See
      www.paulloeb.org.

      ***

      January 4, 2006
      Of Tyrants, Kings, Alito and Bush
      A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

      BuzzFlash has been saying for sometime that the key criteria for
      Bush's federal court appointees, including the Supreme Court, are
      loyalty and a commitment to an imperial presidency. Yes, abortion
      and other issues matter, but they are secondary matters to the
      Busheviks.

      Because if you have people like Roberts, Alito and the ill-fated
      sycophant, Harriet Miers, who support virtually unlimited White
      House powers (for Republicans, because they don't intend to give up
      the White House), then the "smaller" legal issues can eventually be
      decided by presidential (tyrannical) fiat.

      In short, if the White House is allowed by the Supreme Court to
      ignore laws passed by Congress, then who needs a Congress or a
      Supreme Court?

      Sam Alito was, in the Reagan Administration, a big proponent of the
      White House (that is a Republican Executive Branch only) having the
      ability to sign a Congressional law but rephrase the law by stating
      how the Executive Branch means to interpret the law. In short, Alito
      believes a Republican president can change a law by simple monarchal
      proclamation.

      No, we are not making this up. (See: "Alito Once Made Case For
      Presidential Power")

      This leads us directly to the new alleged "torture ban." Bush signed
      the bill, but following Alito's advice, he plans on interpreting the
      bill in a manner that allows him to make decisions that supersede
      (violate the law) as he sits fit. (See: "Bush Could Bypass New
      Torture Law")

      In short, if the Democrats in the Senate don't make a last stand for
      democracy, we won't have one. What do you need a deliberative body
      of elected officials for if you have a tinhorn dictator who believes
      he IS the law? Bush does not just perceive himself as above the law;
      he believes that he determines the law. And Supreme Court nominees
      like Alito support this monarchal view of imperial power.

      Bush views himself -- and his supporters view him -- as the strict
      father figure who -- even if on a drunken, egotistical power trip --
      is to be trusted because the man is the head of the household and
      that is the divine order of things. It was the viewpoint that
      permeated the social structure of the Confederacy South, where even
      a failed plantation owner, who couldn't succeed at skittles was king
      of the household.

      If no figures in authority challenge the scoundrel, he remains
      master of his household, with unlimited power, as his family cowers
      in fear.

      We are his family, because no one will charge Bush with abuse,
      neglect, and illegal activity.

      The Democratic leaders just let one betrayal, lie and disaster after
      another roll off the news pages as if it were just passing trivia.
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