IF you like machine guns, you’ll love Sam Alito. Alito doesn’t believe the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives Congress broad power to control firearms. That’s why, in 1996, Alito was the only member of a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel who would have let off an indicted gun dealer who had pleaded guilty to selling two machine guns on successive days at a Pennsylvania gun show in 1994.
- Cragg Hines
Y’all had best prepare yourself. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to hear all sorts of carefully crafted propaganda about what a reasonable, prudent jurist Samuel Alito is. Granted, I know little about Alito’s judicial record. I do know that what little I’ve heard thus far is not promising. Given who nominated Alito, you can bet that the news is only going to get worse.
None of us should harbor any doubt of where we are headed as a society, both legally and morally. Most of what can reasonably be considered social, racial, and legal progress over the past 40-50 years could well go the way of the buffalo. It may well be gradual, and it may not even be immediately evident, but it will happen. What I and so many others on the Left find so laughable is that Conservatives beat their breasts about “not legislating from the bench”, and yet that is exactly what they’re after here. Of course, it’s not “legislating from the bench” if a judge’s ruling is to your liking, eh?
The fact that Conservatives are falling all over themselves in joyous anticipation of the possibilities presented by Alito should serve as warning enough of what their expectations are. It will likely only be a matter of time before Roe v. Wade will be struck down. No doubt the long-held legal principle of stare decisis will become just another quaint, outdated principle to be cast aside as an inconvenient impediment as Social Conservatives move full-speed ahead to enshrine their narrow agenda as the law of the land. After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, eh (apologies to the late Nikita Krushchev)?
Alito, a rock star to conservatives who scuttled Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers, is so in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, Bush’s archetype of a supposedly strict-constructionist justice, that he’s known as “Scalito” ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ little Scalia or Scalia lite.
But Alito need take a back seat to no one when it comes to hard-right jurisprudence….
Even the Supreme Court precedents that Alito, as merely an appeals court judge, has felt compelled to uphold would not necessarily be safe once he was on the high bench. The principle of stare decisis, that provides continuity for the broad foundation of basic law as rendered in earlier Supreme Court decisions, can be given short shrift when it collides with the conservative agenda.
Such as ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ and, it seems, especially ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ when the issue is abortion rights.
Just as in the machine-gun case, Alito was the lone way-out-there voice on an important point in an already bad 3rd Circuit opinion that Alito would have made even worse.
In upholding a restrictive Pennsylvania abortion law in 1991, even the increasingly conservative 3rd Circuit refused to go along with one of the legislatively approved provisions: to require a woman to notify her spouse, in almost all instances, before an abortion. To emphasize his position, Alito wrote a dissent to spell out his approval of the spousal-notice section.
The Supreme Court said on review that the provision would impermissibly give a man “the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.”
And don’t you dare fall for the “that was then, this is now argument”. I’m a firm believer that, when it comes to jurisprudence, past is prologue. What has come before is generally a pretty good indication of what’s to come. Given Alito’s age, he stands to have a long career on the Supreme Court if confirmed. The possibilities are very good that, even if a Democrat is elected to the White House in 2008, our legal landscape will be ruled by ruthless, compassion-starved Social Conservatives for years to come.
One poll out this morning is showing that 53% of Americans feel that Alito should not be confirmed if he would overturn Roe v. Wade. This, I suppose, only demonstrates that Americans are a much more reasonable lot than I often give us credit for. Nonetheless, these 53% will not be the ones having an impact on Alito’s confirmation hearing. The ones who will be are the majority of Republicans in the Senate, most of whom seem to think that Samuel Alito is the most reasonable and qualified Supreme Court nominee since Thurgood Marshall.
Make no mistake; this will be the equivalent of a holy war. No, there won’t be any spears, catapults, or petards raining death and destruction on the populace. There will be those, however, who feels themselves anointed by God to make our country more friendly to the Evangelical agenda. That sound you hear is the barely audible death rattles of the separation of Church and State. When Pat Robertson is rejoicing over Alito’s nomination, can there be any doubt as to where we’re headed?
The propaganda war is only just beginning, y’all….