Monday, January 30, 2006

To filibuster Alito or not

Of the nine Justices currently serving on the Supreme Court, four were confirmed unanimously, three were confirmed with fewer than 10 no votes, Chief Justice Roberts was confirmed by a more than ¾ vote, and Clarence Thomas squeaked by on a 52–48 vote.

The position of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the American people was severely damaged by the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, with its nakedly partisan outcome. The only way to recover the standing of the Court as a trusted arbiter of the law of the land is to put on the court Justices who are viewed as impartial, and who have the support of a broad spectrum of the people and of the Senate.

As the vote on Samuel Alito's nomination draws near, it appears likely that Democrats will try to mount a filibuster. What remains to be seen is whether either side will make an honest attempt to engage the real question — whether someone whose support is so divided along party lines should sit on the Court — or whether they will simply engage in the usual partisan sniping. The direct meaning of cloture is to cut off debate; how about we extend the debate in a meaningful direction instead of just stalling until the other side gives up?

I believe that Samuel Alito should NOT be confirmed to the Supreme Court, based on both his personal ideology and his judicial record. He does not have the character to be a fair judge. However, more importantly, I do not believe that anyone should sit on the Supreme Court if he or she can't even get 60 votes in the Senate.