Monday, January 30, 2006

Filibustering the King's Choice

"During his testimony, Democratic senators were shocked by Alito's brazen support for a radical expansion of presidential power."
--Michael Carmichael, Counterpunch
The Senate flibuster of Samuel Alito's nomination comes down to a straight-forward matter of conscience.
  • Those who vote 'Yes' to cut off debate and send Alito to the Supreme Court should do so only if they truly believe that Alito is the best choice to uphold the Constitution -- not just the bits they like, but all of it, including the Bill of Rights - as the supreme law of the land.
  • Those who vote "No' to shutting off debate should do so if they truly believe that Alito is a "nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment."
Those are among the important issues the Supreme Court deals with, though there are more such as excessive media concentration, private property rights, etc. etc. etc.

Of all of the tens of hundreds of legal issues that will come before the court in the coming decades, however, Prof. Geoffrey F. Stone of the University of Chicago Law School makes a convincing case from the historical record that the "single most critical factor" in approving a Supreme Court justice is a nominee's judicial philosophy about executive power.
"Those Justices who abdicated their responsibility and chose blindly to defer to excessive presidential claims approved the pervasive suppression of dissent during World War I, the Japanese internment, and the rampant abuses of McCarthyism. Those who were determined to ask hard questions and to insist that the President and Congress comply with the Constitution gave the nation the steel seizure decision, the Pentagon Papers decision, and the 2004 decision preserving the due process rights of American citizens.

"Now, President Bush arrogantly asserts that he has the inherent constitutional authority to wiretap American citizens on American soil without first obtaining a warrant, in direct defiance of federal legislation and the Fourth Amendment. This is on top of his previous assertions of inherent authority to employ torture, wiretap lawyer-client communications, confine American citizens incommunicado, and close deportation and other legal proceedings from public scrutiny.

"Given the times in which we live, we need and deserve a Supreme Court willing to examine independently these extraordinary assertions of executive authority. We can fight and win the war on terrorism without inflicting upon ourselves and our posterity another regrettable episode like the Red Scare and the Japanese internment. But that will happen only if the Justices of the Supreme Court are willing to fulfill their essential role in our constitutional system.

"Whatever else Judge Alito may or may not have made clear about his views on such issues as abortion, federalism, and religious freedom, he has certainly made clear that he has no interest in restraining the acts of this commander-in-chief. That, in my judgment, poses a serious threat to the nation, and is a more than adequate reason for the Senate – Republicans and Democrats alike – to deny his confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States."
Our own U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said it more succinctly:
"[Alito's] many legal writings, judicial opinions and evasive answers both at his hearing and in our private meeting, convinced me he would tilt the scales of justice in favor of big government over the average person."

“Because he is not the centrist voice I believe this nation needs to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who fiercely defended the rights and liberties of all Americans, I’m going to vote no on his confirmation.”
Senator Nelson has taken a principled position on the Alito nomination. All Floridians should be proud of that. If he has the courage of his convictions, Senator Nelson should also vote "No" on cloture.

Addendum: What are the Florida Netroots Saying?

Can't Keep Quiet says:
"At one point the Republicans were the party of small government that was not sticking its nose into people’s private lives. That party has since been hijacked by the ideologues and government is bigger than ever. There are also more and more attempts to regulate what we can and can’t do in private.

Alito’s appointment will tip the Supreme Court dangerously over towards these ideologues. This won’t go away in a few years. This will last for decades."
RFK Lives adds, "We should all be going to and urging [Senator Nelson] to support the Scalito filibuster."

Out In Left Field has the numbers to reach Nelson and other Senators on the fence. So does Blogwood.

Mike at Florida News blames himself for Alito, "but at the same time I'm letting you know that it is not going to happen again."

Trish at Pensito Review sees today's filibuster vote as "a last chance for Democrats -- and democracy."

Once upon a time Pensacola Beach web site contributor Larry Coates, who's moved on to other venues, says "A president that has the constitutional power to ignore the Constitution is no longer the leader of a free country, but a dictator. Once that power is declared the law of the land, there is no law whatsoever except whatever the president of the day decides is needed or wanted."

1 comment:

Bryan said...

He voted "yes" on cloture, so he will face Harris without my vote.

I won't vote for people who won't vote for my future.

His vote on Alito is meaningless now.