Monday, January 16, 2006

King and Alito

Is Alito's confirmation a foregone conclusion? With Democrats like Diane Feinstein opposing the use of the filibuster, and members of the Gang of 14 scrambling to show why the confirmation of this extremist conservative who evaded every question put to him does not constitute extraordinary circumstances, it would seem so.

Nevertheless, on this day, when we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, it is worth considering why someone like Alito is even thought to be eligible for this position.

There are many things that could be said about him, but right now I'll just mention two:

1. His involvement with Concerned Alumni of Princeton. Maybe he really was involved because of the problems with ROTC, as he claims, even though the ROTC problem was largely resolved before they got going. Still, the true character of Concerned Alumni of Princeton can be discerned by this comment from its main financial backer, Shelby Cullom Davis, who wondered "Why should not a goal of 10 percent to 20 percent women and minorities be appropriate for Princeton's long-term strength and future?" Doesn't it seem legitimate to push Alito a little more on this?

2. His opposition to the principle of one-man-one-vote. Given that the Court will be ruling on reapportionment cases for the foreseeable future, this seems like something that we need to know a lot more about.

There are certainly reasons to take either position on the filibuster, and in my view the strongest consideration against trying the filibuster is the treachery of the so-called moderate Republicans in the Gang of 14 and the likelihood that they will back out of their commitment and support the nuclear option when the point is finally raised. Still, since we seem to be faced with a nominee who will be pursuing an agenda to roll back rights every chance he gets, I don't think we should roll over for him.

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