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Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Alito

Are the Democrats just going to lie down and take it like the men and women they are rather than those we elected them to be? The New York Times Thursday calls them "in need of a spine." I agree. (I said the same thing the other day about the way they were reacting to Karl Rove's comments, trying to one-up him on being in support of wiretaps, practically begging the Repubs to ask Congress to gut FISA and the 4th Amendment and saying they'd be only to happy to comply.)

Back to Alito and the Times, which notes:

[Alito's] elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government -- and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination. ...A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

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Alito Vote: Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

Not surprisingly, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Judge Sam Alito on for a vote in the full Senate. All Democrats voted against him.The make-up of the Committee, with 10 Republicans and 8 Democratics assured this would be the outcome. Here are excerpts from the hearing this morning at which the vote was taken. The full transcript (html) is here.

Will it be any different in the full Senate? Raw Story reports today that Florida Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson announced he will vote against Alito.

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Frist: Alito is Dem's Worst Nightmare

Sen. Bill Frist shows us again how to talk out of both sides of your mouth (via Firedoglake):

Frist, while giving a Senate tour to Republican activists last night:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Republican Party activists on Friday night that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats."

Frist's spokesman afterwards:

Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said that Alito "is a thoughtful mainstream conservative jurist who is well respected by his peers, by Democrats and Republicans alike."

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Democrats Urge a 'No' Vote on Alito

Update: Check out Daily Kos' Whip Count.

Original Post

In a closed meeting of the Democratic caucus Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy made the case for rejecting Judge Sam Alito.

As I reported yesterday, Sens. Leahy and Kennedy will be speaking publicly against Alito today.

Kevin Zeese, director of Democracy Rising and an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, makes an excellent case for filibustering Alito. (received by e-mail.) While I don't think that's a realistic possibility, I hope any Democrats and moderate Republicans considering voting for Alito read his piece first. It just might change their minds.

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Sen. Leahy to Announce Alito Decision Tomorrow

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will announce his decision on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito at 11:00 am Thursday, from the Georgetown University Law Center. The press is invited. His talk is officially titled "The Alito Nomination, The Supreme Court, And Presidential Power." He's expected to oppose Alito.

Sen. Ted Kennedy will announce his opposition to Alito in a speech tomorrow at 1:30 at the Center for American Progress. (received by e-mail.)

So far, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only turncoat. But, several Democrats are up in the air, among them, Carl Levin.

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Alito and CAP: More Details

Did Judge Sam Alito tell the truth about CAP at his confirmation hearing? Here are some more details about CAP from Berkely Professor Jerome Karabel, author of The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Prof. Karabel asks:

Why, then, in late 1989 -- 13 years after CAP was founded -- would the mild-mannered Samuel Alito tout his membership in such an organization as he sought the job of Deputy Assistant Attorney General?

....In all likelihood, Alito -- who was by all accounts a marginal and inactive member of CAP -- highlighted his membership in the organization for the most prosaic of reasons: he thought that it would signal to the movement conservatives who controlled appointments in the Justice Department that he shared their values and was a member of their network. Alito was not wrong, and in late 1985 -- shortly after Prospect published what turned out to be its last issue -- he received the promotion that helped place him on the path to the Supreme Court.

[graphic created exclusively for TalkLeft by CL.]

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Specter Will Vote For Alito

Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter has announced he will vote to confirm Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. The vote could come as early as Tuesday.

Democrats sound increasingly pessimistic about stopping Bush's drive to pack the court with conservative ideologues.

"To stop a president on judicial nominations, you either need a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate or moderate Republicans who will break ranks when it's a conservative nominee," Mr. Schumer said. "We don't have any of those three. The only tool we have is the filibuster, which is a very difficult tool to use, and with only 45 Democrats, it's harder than it was last term."

He's right. That's why we must begin focusing now on the 2006 elections and 2008.

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Sen. Harry Reid's Statement on Alito Hearings

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has issued this statement following the confirmation hearing of Judge Sam Alito: (received by e-mail)

“I have followed the Alito hearings closely. Democrats on the Committee did their jobs by asking tough questions about important issues: civil rights, privacy, environmental protections, the danger of unchecked presidential power and others. Unfortunately, Judge Alito’s responses did little to address my serious concerns about his 15-year judicial record.

“I have not forgotten that Judge Alito was only nominated after the radical right wing of the President's party forced Harriet Miers to withdraw. The right wing insisted that Justice O'Connor be replaced with a sure vote for their extreme agenda. Four days of hearings have shown that Judge Alito is no Sandra Day O'Connor.

“Senate Democrats will meet next week to discuss the nomination.”

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Alito's Murder Board Coaches

Think Progress has the official list of who helped Judge Sam Alito prep for his confirmation hearings. (pdf)

Senator Lindsay Graham is not on the list.

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Knights-Ridder Defends Alito Case Analysis

Knights-Ridder News Service yesterday defended its reporters' analysis of Judge Alito's 311 published opinions:

"During his 15 years on the federal bench, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has worked quietly but resolutely to weave a conservative legal agenda into the fabric of the nation's laws." Assisted by Washington bureau researcher Tish Wells, Henderson and Mintz spent nearly a month reading all of Alito's 311 published opinions, which are available in a commercial database or in the archives of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, where Alito has sat for 15 years.

They concluded that, "although Alito's opinions are rarely written with obvious ideology, he's seldom sided with a criminal defendant, a foreign national facing deportation, an employee alleging discrimination or consumers suing big business."

The original article is here.

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Alito: Roe v. Wade Could Be Subject to Revisiting

With all the hoopla over the dust-up between Sens. Kennedy and Specter and Mrs. Alito's tears, it's important not to overlook one of the more substantive moments at Wednesday's hearing: Judge Alito refused to say Roe v. Wade was settled law and left open the possibility of revisiting it.

When Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) peppered Alito with questions about whether the ruling is "the settled law of the land," the nominee responded: "If 'settled' means that it can't be reexamined, then that's one thing. If 'settled' means that it is a precedent that is entitled to respect . . . then it is a precedent that is protected, entitled to respect under the doctrine of stare decisis." Stare decisis is a legal principle that, in Latin, means "to stand by that which is decided."

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Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing

We were waiting for some fireworks at Judge Sam Alito's confirmation hearing. Tuesday was definitely dullsville. We wanted sparks to fly. We wanted to hear

Bell's going to ring
Hear the alarms
Better tell the fire chief
To quit playing cards

Senators Kennedy and Schumer came close. with a raucous-ey dust-up over Kennedy's request for the CAP records. Crooks and Liars has the video. Think Progress has the timeline.

Then there was Mrs. Alito's tears, seized on by the MSM as a defining moment of the day.

Please. While I'm not convinced as is Jane they were crocodile tears, engineered by Sen. Lindsay Graham, I do think they were pretty lame. Read James Wolcott who calls Ms. Alito the "new first lady of the American Theater." Then again, consider this, from Time Magazine Wednesday night:

The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development."

I also think Lindsay Graham has some explaining to do about his dual role as murder board coach and hearing officer.

As to the Democratic Senators, their questioning was much improved today. Here's the transcript.

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Alito's Disturbing Response to Questions About Foreign Law

by TChris

Judge Alito’s testimony embraced an isolationist’s view of the law (discussed in this post) that is often echoed by members of the extreme right:

"I don't think it's appropriate or useful to look to foreign law in interpreting the provisions of our Constitution," Judge Alito said in response to questions from Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, in the third day of the judge's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I think the Framers would be stunned by the idea that the Bill of Rights is to be interpreted by taking a poll of the countries of the world," Judge Alito said. "The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to give Americans rights that were recognized practically nowhere else in the world at the time. The Framers did not want Americans to have the rights of people in France or the rights of people in Russia or any of the other countries on the continent of Europe at the time; they wanted them to have the rights of Americans."

No member of the Supreme Court believes that foreign law carries the force of precedent or deserves controlling weight when interpreting the Constitution. No member of the Court bases an understanding of the Bill of Rights on a “poll.” These are the impressions that extremists on the right falsely convey, and it is disturbing that Judge Alito did not disavow these fundamental misunderstandings.

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Alito Hearing Transcripts

The Washington Post has the morning and afternoon hearing transcripts of Judge Alito's testimony today.

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Alito: Where are the Questions on His Government Bias?

As predicted, much of today's confirmation hearing concerned abortion rights. As GW law prof Jonathan Turley points out in USA Today,

The obsession with abortion in American politics has had an anaerobic effect on past confirmation hearings, sucking the air out of other issues. For Alito, this may have the welcomed effect of obscuring a more troubling question from his past writings and cases: Alito's extreme views of government authority over citizens' rights.

Turley also opines:

Despite my agreement with Alito on many issues, I believe that he would be a dangerous addition to the court in already dangerous times for our constitutional system. Alito's cases reveal an almost reflexive vote in favor of government, a preference based not on some overriding principle but an overriding party.

In my years as an academic and a litigator, I have rarely seen the equal of Alito's bias in favor of the government. To put it bluntly, when it comes to reviewing government abuse, Samuel Alito is an empty robe.

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