Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Obama Talks to Trib About Alito

Barack Obama spoke with your Chicago Tribune about Iraq and the United States Supreme Court:
Obama said his decision to oppose the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was "the most difficult vote" of the year. He said he has not decided whether to support the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito but added he is "disturbed with the pattern of his case law, primarily because it never surprises."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent a letter Monday to Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), urging them to consider memos Alito wrote two decades ago that Blagojevich said "threatened" abortion rights.

Obama said he is more troubled by Alito's record as a federal appellate judge.

"I'm very cautious about attributing a lot of weight to statements that were made 20 or 30 years ago," Obama said.

"There's an amazing consistency in which he is ruling for the more powerful against the less powerful, across the board," Obama added. "And, that concerns me. That makes me suspicious."
Make no mistake -- if you're reading this piss-ant blog, you are one of "the less powerful."

More: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick points out that when given the chance, Alito has always ruled in favor of greater police and government power:
In his 15 years on the federal bench, Judge Samuel Alito has yet to rule on a case substantively involving the war on terror. But Alito's votes in pending and future war on terror cases can be fairly accurately predicted. They lurk in dark alleys, near his decisions about criminal rights, immigration cases, and government power. Alito's record in none of those areas bodes well for people who worry about the Bush administration's push for unchecked war powers. ***

The courts, and specifically the Supreme Court, have been willing to push back against the executive's relentless power grab, albeit by a sometimes narrow margin. If Judge Alito is unwilling or unable to talk about his positions in this area of law, we should assume, based on his record, that he would rubber-stamp the administration's citizen detention, habeas corpus, and torture policies. If that is the case—and his confirmation becomes a referendum on the acceptability of such policies—he would, and should, fail to be confirmed by a large bipartisan majority.

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