EDITORIAL: Alito a good pick for Supreme Court

President Bush’s decision to replace Harriet Miers as his nominee for the Supreme Court is a wise one, and even wiser was the decision to replace her with Samuel Alito, Jr.

The Miers nomination caused a swelling uproar among the many conservatives, who were left scratching their heads in bewilderment over the president’s logic. Why pass over so many well qualified, tried-and-true conservatives for a Bush crony about whom nothing definitive was known?

After weeks of debate, the process reached a tipping point, and Miers withdrew from consideration for the court. While President Bush was most likely embarrassed with the failure to have his nominee confirmed, it left him a valuable opportunity to reconnect with his base by nominating someone with whom conservatives could be pleased.

There are many ways in which Alito is the anti-Miers. He seems to have everything that Miers’ critics say she did not: an Ivy League education, a wealth of judicial experience and a track record that was sure to please the president’s conservative base. The son of New Jersey public school teachers, Alito was educated at Princeton and at Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. After clerking for Judge Leonard Garth on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney, assistant to the Solicitor General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General. From 1987 to 1989, Alito was unanimously approved by the Senate to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he made a name for himself prosecuting white-collar and organized crime cases.

This is all experience that Miers could only wish to have, but the most critical difference between Alito and Miers is that in 1990, he was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to sit on the Third Circuit, alongside his old boss, Judge Garth. Here he also was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, of which many members now decry him as being too conservative for their tastes. Alito’s rulings while he sat on the Third Circuit have given conservatives the type of paper trail they needed to feel confident in his nomination – the same sort of paper trail that was lacking in the case of Harriet Miers.

Furthermore, the fact that Alito is a white Catholic male left no doubt that the president’s decision was made not on quotas for women or minorities but rather on experience and proven philosophical credentials. This could, of course, cause opposition from those in the Senate who were expecting another woman, or perhaps a minority, to fill the seat, claiming that a white male could not possibly have the breadth and depth of “real life” experience that a woman or a minority is sure to have.

The confirmation process for Samuel Alito may prove to be a difficult one. While conservatives are sure to rally behind the judge during the hearings, it is possible that he will be met with fierce opposition from liberal Democrats, such as Edward Kennedy, and possibly even from moderate/pro-choice Republicans like Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Regardless of how the drama plays out, conservatives and liberals alike can rest assured that Alito will be confirmed or denied on his record – a record which was unfortunately missing in the case of Harriet Miers.

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