Watching the Senate Judiciary Committee interrogate Judge Samuel Alito at length for his confirmation to the Supreme Court was probably the most painful thing I did during Winter Break. Every Republican on the committee noted that their Demo-cratic colleagues were bitter and that they used fallacious, desperate attacks for political reasons. Re-publicans were so im-pressed with Alito, it reminded me of my reaction the first time I met Santa Claus. The stoic Alito took the flattery with a quirky grin, eerily similar to President Bush’s ubiquitous smirk.
Democratic senators riled at Alito’s previous case rulings and seemed bewildered by his vague responses. Each senator was allotted a specified amount of time to speak, and the Democrats used their time to illuminate involvement in conservative groups and clarify questionable rulings. There’s nothing funnier than watching Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., squirm in his seat like he lost his pack of Rolaids while questioning Alito. His facial expressions were priceless when Alito tried to appease Kennedy’s questions.
What a spectacle the hearings were.
Judge Alito couldn’t directly answer a question for the life of him – he was quite the politician deflecting questions left and right. At one point, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Alito the same question five times – consecutively. Amid laughter from the audience, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
However, the blame here doesn’t fall solely on Alito’s shoulders. By answering questions on controversies such as abortion, death penalty, executive power, etc., he loses one way or another.
For example, if Alito says that he doesn’t respect precedent on Roe v. Wade, or notes that the Constitution doesn’t include a right to privacy, he infuriates Democrats. Likewise, if he says he will uphold Roe v. Wade as set law, he angers Republicans.
What’s a judge to do?
The best question a Democratic senator could’ve asked during the hearings would’ve been, “Judge, what are your views on filibusters and protection of minority rights?”
While attempting to create an equal democracy in Iraq, minority rights go largely underrepresented in the United States. And if minority rights aren’t ensured and protected in Iraq, a successful democracy is bleak at best.
They say 30 years old is the new 20, and 60 votes should be the new 50 for confirming nominees to the Supreme Court. Some positions demand more than a plurality of votes for affirmation.
Our freedoms depend on it.
Conor Shapiro is a student at San Diego State University.