By: David Bauer
After the Harriet Miers nomination debacle, President Bush realized his decision to look outside the “system” was a mistake, and a big one. Miers had been nominated because she had shown party loyalty and had no previous record to attack. She also showed a glaring lack of experience, which led to her demise. To avoid the same problem, President Bush tried the exact opposite strategy. He nominated Samuel A. Alito Jr., a justice with a long history of judicial rulings. The President is finding that an experienced nominee can be difficult to defend as well.
In the days following the president’s nomination of Alito, it was widely cited that he was conservative, but extremely impartial and unbound by party ties in his rulings. President Bush introduced Alito as someone with “deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society, someone who interprets the laws and doesn’t impose his preferences or priorities.”
However, in 1985 Alito sought to bolster his conservative credentials and move up in the Justice Department with his own rulings. In a job application to former Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III, Alito wrote that the Constitution “does not protect a right to an abortion.” He also stressed his firm opposition to certain affirmative action programs, and strongly endorsed a government role in “protecting traditional values.”
In addition, these same documents show that Alito doesn’t have deep feeling for minority groups and issues. He was particularly proud of his contributions to cases in which the Reagan administration had argued before the Supreme Court against ethnic minorities. “Racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed,” he said.
If confirmed he will replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who has been a crucial swing vote on the Supreme Court. Liberals and Democrats fear that Alito and newly Chief Justice John Roberts would shift the Supreme Court to the right. It is likely that they will help overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. As we know, this case has established abortion rights for women.
Alito’s record is a poignant remainder that he is a staunch conservative judge. His political views and philosophy will likely play a significant role while deciding important cases on the court.
Supreme Court Justices have the power to interpret the rights guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution. If confirmed, Supreme Court nominees will serve for years after the president nominating them leaves office. And decisions made by them will affect the nation for generations.
Thus, the Senate must ensure that the a confirmed judicial nominees will be able to set aside their political or personal views, uphold the guarantees in the Constitution, and adjudicate all cases fairly and impartially.
After all and based on the recent findings, Alito may not be able to remain impartial. While Conservatives revel in the possibility of a Supreme Court justice who will vote against the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, it would show the candidate to not meet the necessary criteria to be a Supreme Court justice and therefore must be voted against by the Senate.
David Bauer is a student at California State University, San Marcos