SAMUEL ALITO -- (Senate - November 16, 2005)
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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, many Members have serious reservations about the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court.
It is obvious that Judge Alito was chosen because the right wing of the Republican Party felt Harriet Miers did not meet their litmus test for Federal judges, a test of right-wing philosophy that was laid out in great detail by the Justice Department itself when Ed Meese was Attorney General in the 1980s. The right wing flexed its muscle and rebelled even when George Bush said, in effect: Trust me--she will be your kind of justice.
Well before Judge Alito was nominated, these core supporters of the President were aware of the President's dwindling public support, and knew he would be highly unlikely to cross them again. They were certain that Judge Alito passed their ideological test. They embraced him immediately, then moved in lock step with the White House to support and defend him.
The reasons for that immediate endorsement by the right are obvious. On key issues of equal rights, fairness, and access to justice, he has repeatedly found ways to keep people from vindicating their rights, obtaining remedies, and protecting themselves from government invasions of their privacy.
He supported a warrantless strip search of a 10-year-old girl, the elimination of black jurors despite a black defendant's objection, the dismissal of a case against an industrial polluter who had 150 water quality violations, the power of a state to intrude in personal medical decisions of women in Pennsylvania, and people who wanted to make machine guns in their homes.
On Tuesday, the Reagan Presidential Library made public his 1985 application for a promotion in the Meese Justice Department, in which he pledged his allegiance to the right wing views that Attorney General Meese stood for. In the application, he stated, ``I am and always have been ..... an adherent to'' these views.
He traced his views back to Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign, which featured strong opposition to civil rights at a time when the growing national support for such rights had just accomplished the landmark Civil Rights Acts of 1964 banning racial discrimination in public accommodations.
As far back as college, he said, his view of constitutional law had been ``motivated in large part by disagreement with the Warren Court decisions,'' particularly the historic decisions supporting basic fairness in the criminal justice system, separation of church and state, and fair districting for legislative elections. In short, for all 20 years of his prior political activity, he had been a dedicated right wing advocate, especially on the major issues that led to the posting of the ``Impeach Earl Warren'' billboards on highways at the time.
We have also learned of his failure to recuse himself in a case involving the Vanguard mutual funds, in which he had a personal investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A different justification was tried out each time his participation was challenged in recent weeks, even though he had specifically pledged to the Senate Judiciary Committee not to sit on ``any cases involving the Vanguard companies,'' regardless of whether he was technically required to recuse himself.
It appears that either the Judge or the White House is desperately running new explanations up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes them.
When I saw him yesterday, he dismissed the blunt ideological commitments in his application to the Meese Justice Department as simply part of the job application process, and told me, in essence, that it shouldn't be taken seriously. But now he is applying for a job on the Supreme Court.
Should we take his assurances about ignoring ideology as a judge any more seriously now?
The American people have a right to better answers about the record of any nominee to the Nation's highest Court. Certainly, in the hearings to come, Senators will learn a great deal more about whether Judge Alito has the basic commitment to core constitutional rights essential to our Nation, and I look forward to those hearings.