Obama On Filibustering Alito

Obama On Filibustering Alito


From the AP:

“We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we’re going to oppose a nominee that we’ve got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake,” Obama said.

“There is an over-reliance on the part of Democrats for procedural maneuvers,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”


“There’s one way to guarantee that the judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court are judges that reflect our values. And that’s to win elections,” Obama said.

I agree with him in spirit, but we’re still talk about the here and now and Alito gives me pause. If there were ever a time to use the filibuster, it is for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. This decision can’t be undone. However, he’s right to say that this filibuster won’t work. Threre aren’t enough Dem Senators to make it work, so it’s merely a stalling tactic.

So why even pursue it? The short answer seems to be it’s an attempt to rally the troops and say, “Hey, at least we tried.” But Dems did try in the hearings and failed to persuade the American people that Alito shouldn’t be appointed. Of course, if Alito has come out and said he’d overturn Roe v. Wade, one may think that the Dems would have more support.

However, Obama nails it when he talks about winning elections. And how do you win elections? Ahh…there’s the rub…

  • Tom

    Two points:

    1) Alito is legalistically somewhere between Scalia and Rehnquist, with the temperment of Kennedy. He’s conservative, but he’s not off the deep end. It doesn’t suprise me that Bush put him forth, because he strikes me as about as far right as Cheney. Now that’s way to the right of me, but not beyond the pale.

    2) The decision actually *can* be undone. The Constitution doesn’t call the position of Supreme Court Justice a lifetime position. It states that “Judges . . . shall hold their Offices during good Behavior”. If Alito ends up making Thomas look like Ginsberg (which ain’t going to happen), Congress could always change it’s mind, say that he’s behavior is rediculous, and vote him out.

  • http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/ Confederate Yankee

    Alito is not nearly as far to the right as Ginsberg was to the left, answered more questions more thoroughly than Ginsberg in her confirmation, and yet, the Senate approved her 96 to 3.

    How can Democrats justify the complete rewritting of the role of the Senate in confirmation hearings? How can they legitimately justify the filibuster of an obviously qualified candidate?


    They can’t.

  • DosPeros

    Tom –

    I am curious as to what legal thresolds you’d judge such lunacy and impeachment.

  • sleipner

    From what I’ve heard, it’s nearly impossible to remove a sitting Supreme Court justice – barring seriously ill health or derangement. Disagreeing with their opinion doesn’t do it.

    Once he’s in, we’re stuck with him for good. The Republicans did a great job at coaching him on how to dance around real answers to the difficult questions, and then lobbed softballs at him in committee. Bush refused to release tons of records that almost certainly contained further (and more recent) incriminating evidence about his likely judicial direction.

    I think we all, both left and right, know exactly how he’s going to vote once he’s in. The left are terrified, the right ecstatic. Even the records and writings we were allowed to see should have been enough to hang him, but instead the opportunity was wasted.

    Four nearly identical voices on the supreme court would make one more conservative justice appointment capable of deciding the court to the right on EVERY issue for decades to come. That is why this is so significant – what if one of the other justices retires or has health issues before 2008? Say hello to the Imperial Presidency of the United Corporations of America.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    How can Democrats justify the complete rewritting of the role of the Senate in confirmation hearings? How can they legitimately justify the filibuster of an obviously qualified candidate?

    You’re kidding me, right? Because the balance of the highest court in the land is at stake CY. This is a lifetime appointment. And by the way, they can use the filibuster however they please. Just because the right-wing has spun this as “not what the forefathers intended” doesn’t mean it isn’t legal for the Dems to do it. I’m sure the government does a lot of stuff that the forefathers didn’t intend. It’s a democracy. It grows and changes.

    But what’s worse? The Dems using existing laws to their advantage or the Republicans using only their slim majority to abolish a bylaw that’s been employed for a long, long time?

    I await your answer.

  • DosPeros

    First of all, I love all the hyperventilating about Alito — I only wish I had the confidence of my leftist-leaning friends in Justice Alito’s future decisions. As we all know, Justices have a nasty way of morphing into unpredictable jurist after a few year on the SCOTUS.

    Justin, both a fillibuster and the constitutional option to end a fillibuster are perfectly legal. Like you said, it is a democracy — and here’s the rub — in a democracy, someone always loses. In this case, Ted Kennedy and Chucky Shumer lost — I’ll try to hold back the tears. All federal judges are life-time appointments — are you suggesting a fillibuster based on a political litmus test for each nomination or is it just SCOTUS?

    Sleipner – like John Roberts, Alito had a 25 point IQ advantage over anyone else in the room. He has listened to appellate arguments for the last 15 years. The idea that his success was because of Republican coaching and softball questions is absurd. Shumer, Kennedy, et al. tried every nasty thing they could come up with to unrail and disrupt Alito — they failed because Alito is very smart and disciplined man.

  • http://www.yankeewombat.com lgude

    There seems to be little appreciation on either side of this debate that a good judge doesn’t decide things simply because of ideology or even on their past writings where they are free to express their ideological beliefs. They decide things on the basis of the law too. In the SCOTUS its a balancing act between strictly following precedent and changing the law through interpretation. The point is not to stray too far in either direction. If you follow the law blindly you end up hanging people you really shouldn’t which is the dilemma that Melville explored in Billy Bud. If you always interpret to law in the search of greater justice you can and do end up with courts that discriminate against people the court or the government don’t like. The first such court that tried to soften the strictures of the common law was the infamous Star Chamber. Alito is a blue state conservative with impressive qualifications. I don’t think it is at all clear how he will vote but I am highly confident that he will justify however he votes with sound legal argument. That is all I expect from judges and all I will expect from judges appointed by the next Democratic president.

  • DosPeros

    Let me be the first on Donklephant to say — Congrats Justice Alito, we look forward to your contributions and the return of constitutional law from the dark intellectual bush of silly social activism.

  • john

    I think Obama is correct in his judgement about fillibustering, and I do believe Alito is due for confirmation, but I would not vote for him if I were in congress. The real issue here is not that a conservative republican president is appointing conservatives, but getting more moderate congressmen (both republican and democrat) elected. And maybe we need to allow the republicans to appoint whoever they want so that America can see where they will be if they allow the Right wing of the Republican party to get their way. This goes beyond just tooting the Support America/ God Bless America/ Anti-Terrorism bugle. Let’s see beyond the Right Wing Rhetoric about Leftist Press and Academia, and see what the ideas they purport will end up with. I think Bush is an excellent example of this, and the result of his presidency is yet to be seen, when Americans see where these policies lead us, perhaps they will take off the blinders that the RightWing offer and see the policies for what they are. So perhaps the Dems should stop shouting and screaming against appointments like Alito, and give the American People what they voted for.

  • Meredith

    Justin, in the future could you post more pictures of Obama?

    Also, it would be nice if you could tell me where I could get posters of him for my bedroom walls and/or t-shirts to wear so I can start campaigning for him in 2000 – whatever.

  • Meredith

    Seriously, is there a Barack Obama fan club yet? If not, I would like to start one and be the President of it, maybe the treasurer too. I guess if I’m the President I would get to make the rules, so I could be treasurer if I wanted, couldn’t I? Of course I could.

    Ultimately, Obama is right because of the way the hearings went from the beginning. If the Dems had done a good job of blowing holes in Alito (not literally, of course), the set-up for the fillibuster would have been better, and it may have succeeded and looked good. However, the hearings were botched, so he’s right about jumping into a fillibuster.

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    If the Dems had done a good job of blowing holes in Alito (not literally, of course),

    Glad you qualified that Meredith. I was wondering if you ACTUALLY meant blowing large holes in the SCOTUS nominee.

    Crisis averted…