Based on what I've heard so far, I strongly hope that the Democrats will oppose new Bush SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito. His views on privacy and reproductive rights are troubling, but his other positions bother me even more. The New York Times listed some of the details in an editorial today:
Judge Alito has favored an inflated standard of evidence for racial- and sex-discrimination cases that would make it very hard even to bring them to court, much less win. In an employment case, he said that just for a plaintiff to have the right to a trial, she needed to prove that her employers did not really think they had chosen the best candidate for a job. When lawyers for a black death-row inmate sought to demonstrate bias in jury selection by using statistics, Judge Alito dismissed that as akin to arguing that Americans were biased toward left-handers because left-handed men had won five out of six of the preceding presidential elections.
At least as worrisome are Judge Alito's frequent rulings to undermine the federal government's authority to address momentous national problems. Dissenting in a 1996 gun control case, he declared that Washington could not regulate the sale of fully automatic machine guns. In 2000, Judge Alito said Washington could not compel state governments to abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act, a position repudiated by the Supreme Court in a decision written by Justice William Rehnquist.
When a judge is more radical on states' power than Justice Rehnquist, the spiritual leader of the modern states' rights movement, we should pay attention.
It also sounds like Alito is as deferential to powerful economic interests as right-wingers could possibly hope; Grover Norquist seems to be pretty much orgasmic, which bothers me as much or more than the glee of the theocrats.
So progressives and moderates will have plenty of grounds to oppose Alito. But what about Phillies phans?
At Princeton, Alito was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. He wrote his senior thesis on the Italian court system, based on research he conducted in Rome and Bologna in the summer of 1971, according to the class yearbook. The prediction that he would end up on the Supreme Court was disclosed Monday by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a fellow Princeton graduate, when Alito met with Senate GOP leaders.
"My real ambition at the time was to be the commissioner of baseball," said Alito, an ardent fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. "I never dreamed that this day would actually arrive."
At Yale Law School, Alito "was very much like the finished product," said Dan Rabinowitz, a former classmate, longtime friend and self-described liberal Democrat. "He was enormously intelligent, very disciplined and hard-working — a little shy and not inclined to make small talk, unless you are a Philadelphia Phillies fan, in which case you are his friend for life."
A few years ago, Alito's wife set up a vacation for him at a fantasy baseball camp, where he got to rub elbows with some of his beloved Phillies. He even had baseball cards made with his own image, holding a bat and "looking serious," said Carter G. Phillips, a Washington lawyer who has known Alito for years.
"After a promising start, Sam's baseball career stalled for about 25 years, but now it is picking up again," the card says, according to Phillips. "Look for him as a 50-year-old rookie in 2000."
Too bad he didn't become commissioner of MLB: both the game and the country probably would be better off. Of course, I feel much the same about George W. Bush himself, who was reportedly promised the commissionership in the early 1990s while he still ran the Texas Rangers. But then the labor situation got bad, and Selig decided to stay in the saddle, and Bush chose to enter politics.
Thanks, Bud. Really, thanks.