EDITORIAL: The next justice of the Supreme Court

While Samuel Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has been considered rather likely since his nomination by President Bush in November, a statement by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) Sunday appears to have sealed the deal.

Feinstein argued that although she was planning on voting against confirmation, she has seen nothing out of the ordinary which would justify filibustering Alito – a view parroted by many of the Democratic members of the “Gang of 14.” Because the Democrats have no other weapon in their arsenal, which has the ability to stop the process, such a concession has made the likely inevitable.

On the surface, Alito appears to be impeccably qualified for the court, especially in comparison to Bush’s previous nominee. He has served as a U.S. appellate court judge for the last 20 years. He also received a rating of “highly recommended” from the American Bar Association, the highest one possible.

While his political views are decidedly right-of-center, his former employees and colleagues, Republican and Democratic alike, generally see him as an honest man who leaves his personal viewpoints on an issue at the courthouse steps. Furthermore, simply being conservative should not be a bar on serving on the highest court in the land, assuming that one can still rule on the issues fairly, any more than race or gender should be applied as criteria.

However, there are some aspects of his record that are quite troubling. The most troubling of his views regards the expansion of governmental power into society. During his confirmation hearings Alito claimed to be a supporter of a smaller government, yet his previous decisions contradict such a claim.

According to a study by University of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, in the 52 split cases Alito heard regarding the expansion of governmental power, he ruled in favor of expansion 48 times. The most egregious example being the lone dissent in a case where he claimed police officers were justified in strip-searching a 10-year-old girl.

Taking into consideration that this presidency is already an “imperial” one, placing a judge on the Supreme Court who seems to agree with the president’s view on this matter is extremely disconcerting, if not exactly surprising.

The other major point of contention is Alito’s membership in the group “Concerned Alumni of Princeton.” While his membership has been overblown by Democrats looking for their Bork moment, belonging to a group which rather openly desired to go back to the “good old days,” i.e. when women and minorities were rarely, if ever, enrolled at Princeton, is not exactly what one would call a particularly good sign regardless of the reasoning behind joining.

Also the mention of his membership on his 1986 Appellate court application could be read to be the reiteration of a conservative shibboleth. However it is also quite possible Alito simply desired to be fully honest in his application. The simple, cold truth is we can’t know what’s in his heart regarding this issue.

Regardless of any concerns we have about Alito, his placement on the Supreme Court is a fait accomplit. It is our sincere hope that Alito will show the judicial temperament utilized by Sandra Day O’Connor over the last 25 years.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.