COLUMN: Alito a better nominee for Supreme Court

Michael McLaughlin

Well, I was originally planning on writing a “funny” column about how the heat in nearly every class and residence hall room has been stuck on 90 degrees for the last week and a half. However, President Bush picked a replacement for Harriet Miers much more quickly than I had anticipated.

In choosing Samuel Alito as the new nominee for O’Connor’s seat, Bush did what many non-partisan prognosticators believe would have been the smart move in the first place: Pick a highly experienced judge with rock solid conservative bona fides.

Unsurprisingly, most conservatives are greatly enthused over Alito being the new nominee; he seems ready to join the Court’s rightward block. Of course, the fact he actually appears to be a competent jurist is a definite plus for them as well.

For that matter, if one wanted to believe that Bush was Machiavellian, he/she would argue that he put Miers forward first on purpose. When she was forced to withdraw and Alito became her replacement, even Democrats would have to admit that at least he’s more experienced than Bush’s first choice. Personally, I think he was rewarding a crony of his, as has been par for the course for this administration, and it ended up backfiring.

Just as predictable as the exultation of the new nominee from the right is the condemnation from the left. While one could argue such a response is a reflex action from any party which is out of power, this time the ire appears to be well placed. Alito is a major departure from O’Connor in judicial temperament – more so than Roberts if he had been confirmed in this seat.

So it looks as if we’re going to have a judicial war over the Supreme Court that was avoided with the Roberts appointment, and I’ve got bad feelings about this one. While the majority of Americans are against the nuclear option, I think that the GOP is willing to push the button anyway if the Dems launch a filibuster. After all, if this equation boils down to trading a Supreme Court justice for a few Democratic Congressmen, I think that’s a deal the majority of Bush’s base is more than willing to make.

Some hope does exist in this whole situation. Kennedy has been slowly moving toward the left and Alito did write a paper while in law school defending gay rights. Who knows, maybe he won’t turn out so bad after all. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

Here’s hoping that Justice Stevens stays on the court through 2009 or else the crap is going to hit the fan when Bush gets to replace one of the court’s stalwart liberals.

Michael McLaughlin is a senior history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].