Pres. George W. Bush got his way Tuesday when the U. S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. He passed by a fairly healthy majority – – 58 to 42 – – but it could have been an ugly fight. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who voted against confirmation in the final count, refused to join the liberal senators such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry who wanted to filibuster the nomination to death.
Landrieu and 13 other Democratic and Republican senators, half and half, had agreed to vote for cloture except in extreme cases when normal debate came to an end rather than vote against ending it and leave the floor open for filibuster. This was an agreement they made last year when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to pass a bill that would outlaw filibusters on Supreme Court nominees. If Frist’s bill were passed, that would have just about assured that Bush’s nominees would be approved by the 55-Republican majority in the Senate.
Opponents claimed that Alito had made statements in the past that indicated he was too conservative and would undo some of the rights which many citizens have been awarded by the Supreme Court. For example, he reportedly suggested when working in the solicitor general’s office for President Ronald Reagan that the justice department try to chip away at abortion rights rather than mount an all-out assault. He also wrote once in a job application for another post in the Reagan administration “that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”
Apparently, most of the people who opposed him consider the right to an abortion one of the most sacrosanct rights in this free country. They do not consider the rights of the human life that is being killed in abortion to be sacrosanct at all.
So why shouldn’t Alito have an opinion on this very important subject? More than half of the people in the United States oppose abortion in one way or another.
Alito has opinions on other controversial subjects just like every other judge that has been appointed or elected in this country. Anyone who is capable of thinking enough to be a judge should have such opinions. That should not disqualify them for the judiciary.
A judge, after all, is supposed to rule in accordance with the way the law is written, not according to his beliefs. Perhaps in some cases, that principal does not rule. But we have seen nothing in Judge Allito’s past that indicates he by-passes the laws in favor of his own opinion.
A new Supreme Court justice is seated and we should all be happy that it did not turn ugly as some of our senators tried to make it. It’s time that our lawmakers come to their senses and quit the extreme partisanship they practice in Washington. It’s all very ugly.