Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Other Hero Of Wednesday's Alito Hearing: Senator Lindsey Graham

Senator Lindsey Graham, like Senator Specter, did heroic work during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Samuel Alito. Neither Senator is known for excessive Republican partisanship but Wednesday both came through for their party in a big way. Specter with his smackdown of Ted Kennedy and Graham with his eloquent and emotional defense of Judge Alito.

After listening to days of Democratic Senatorial thuggery directed at the nominee, Senator Graham stuck it to them by stating explicitly what the Democrats had been insinuating in their questions about the Concerned Alumni of Princeton.
"GRAHAM: If you don't mind the suspicious nature that I have is that you may be saying that because you want to get on the Supreme Court; that you're disavowing this now because it doesn't look good.

And really what I would look at to believe you're not -- and I'm going to be very honest with you -- is: How have you lived your life? Are you really a closet bigot?

ALITO: I'm not any kind of a bigot, I'm not.

GRAHAM: No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it -- but that's a good enough reason, because you seem to be a decent, honorable man. I have got reams of quotes from people who have worked with you, African American judges -- I've lost my quotes.

Judge Higginbotham -- I don't know where they're at. But glowing quotes about who you are, the way you've lived your life; law clerks, men and women, black and white, your colleagues who say that Sam Alito, whether I agree with him or not, is a really good man.

You know why I believe you when you say that you disavow those quotes? Because the way you have lived your life and the way you and your wife are raising your children.

Let me tell you this: Guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you're sitting. And we're going to go through a bit of this ourselves as congressmen and senators.

People are going to take a fact that we got a campaign donation from somebody who's found out to be a little different than we thought they were -- and our political opponent's going to say, "Aha, I got you!"

And we're going to say, "Wait a minute. I didn't know that. I didn't take the money for that reason."

And you know what? I'm going to believe these senators and congressmen for the most part, because that's the way we do our business. We meet people here every day. We have photos taken with people -- and sometimes you wish you didn't have your photo taken.

But that doesn't mean that you're a bad person because of that association.

Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this."

And then Graham made a persuasive plea for moving beyond abortion politics in judicial nominations. Here's what Graham had to say after describing Justice Ginsberg's strong advocacy of legal abortion before her appointment to the Supreme Court.
"I don't question her religion. I don't question her patriotism. She gave an answer that was very honest and was very direct.

And pro-life Republicans and pro-life Democrats never thought about disqualifying her. She didn't go through what you went through. Pro-life Republicans and pro-life
Democrats set her comment aside and judged her based on her whole record and believed she was worthy to sit on the Supreme Court and she got 96 votes.

And what you've said in your writings about the other side of the issue pales in comparison to what she said before she came to this body. I don't know how many votes
you're going to get. You're going to get confirmed. And it's not going to be 96. Judge Roberts got 78, and I'm afraid to say that you're probably going to get less.

To my colleagues, I know abortion is important. It's important to me. It's important to you. I know it's an important, central concept in our jurisprudence. But we can't build a judiciary around that one issue.

We can't make judges pledge allegiance to one case. We can't expect them to do things that would destroy their independence. You can vote yes; you can vote no; you can use any reason you would like.

I just beg my colleagues: Let's don't go down a road that the country can't sustain and the judiciary will not be able to tolerate.

People set aside her writings, set aside her candid statement and gave her the benefit of the doubt that she would apply the law when her time came. She replaced Justice White.

We knew that that vote was going to change. I don't think any Republican had any doubt that, if there was a Roe v. Wade issue, she would vote differently than Justice White. But you never know.

The one thing I can tell the public about you and John Roberts is that you're first round NFL draft picks, but I don't know what you're going to do 10 or 20 years from now because I think you are men of great integrity.

And I may be very well disappointed in some of your legal reasoning, but I'll never be disappointed in you if you do your job as you see fit."

Senator Graham is right. Abortion politics has perverted America's judicial selection process by making the process bitterly partisan. It has even led abortion supporters to start down a path of religious bigotry by questioning whether devout Catholics or Evangelicals can fulfill their duty to uphold the constitution if appointed to the court. The monomania with Roe v. Wade has reduced every judicial nomination to a question of whether the candidate will uphold or overturn the case and has led to the types of hearings we have in which judges do their best to keep from being caught by "gotcha" questions. Whether the candidate will be a good judge and be able to handle the type of complex cases runs a distant second to ferreting out the candidate's position on abortion. The sooner we move beyond abortion politics in judicial nominations the better.

-tdr

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