Monday, January 9, 2006
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Senate Judiciary Committee contest!!!
Ah, I see that Samuel Altio's confirmation hearings begin before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
When the hearings were held for John Roberts last year, there was a lot of silliness uttered by a lot of people -- mostly members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So, the hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com announces its first contest -- finding the single dumbest thing a Senator says during the hearings.
For example, my winner for the Roberts confirmation would have been Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who averred, "[I am using] my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under." Diane Feinstein gave Coburn a run for his money, but this was stupidity in its purest form.
So, listen closely and post your nominations in the comments below. Be sure to provide a link to the source of the quotation for our legal staff here. [What does the winner receive?--ed. Hmmm.... suggest your own reward as well, and I'll see what the staff can whip up.]
To kick things off, consider this example from Patrick Leahy's opening statement:
Last October, the President succumbed to partisan pressure from the extreme right of his party by withdrawing his nomination of Harriet Miers. By withdrawing her nomination and substituting this one, the President has allowed his choice to be vetoed by an extreme faction within his party, before hearings or a vote. That eye-opening experience for the country demonstrated what a vocal faction of the Republican Party really wants: They do not want an independent federal judiciary. They demand judges who will guarantee the results that they want.Right. I'm pretty sure that:
a) Opposition to Harriet Miers was across the board;This should be an easy one to top -- get to it, readers!!!
UPDATE: Click here to find out who won!posted by Dan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM
"We know that 22 Senators—including 5 on this Committee—voted against Chief Justice Roberts just a few months ago. We therefore know that you do not exactly come here today on a level playing field. I am reluctantly inclined to the view that you and any other nominee of this President for the Supreme Court start with no more than 13 votes in this Committee, and only 78 votes in the full Senate, with a solid, immovable, and unpersuadable block of at least 22 votes against you, no matter what you say, no matter what you do. That is unfortunate for you, but even worse for the Senate and its reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body."
posted by: TexasToast on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
This strikes me as an invitation to view first hand history repeating itself as farce. Problem is, it isn't a fun, Marx Brothers kind of thing...It's a big fat juicy pander for all the Dem interest groups. And it has all the appeal of a Teddy Kennedy nude scene.
Anyway, from Sen Kennedy, an imposition of judicial quotas. (Didn't the Bakke decision do away with this?):
In a study by the well-respected expert, Professor Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School, Judge Alito was found to rule against the individual in 84 percent of his dissents....
And, no "worst of" is complete with a few moments with Joe Biden:
And it's also important to note that you're slated to replace the first woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court. We can pretend that's not the fact but it is. And through no fault of your own, we're cutting the number of women in half on the court.
And I remind my colleagues, many of which are on this committee, they sure wanted to know what Harriet Miers thought about everything. They sure wanted to know in great detail. They were about ready to administer a blood test.
Umm...that's all I can handle from the transcript.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
"Judge Alito has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job: in 15 years on the bench, not one."
I presume is Kennedy is somehow unaware of the fact that a judge doesn't personally write all the opinions he votes on?posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Winner's Reward should be:
Lobster dinner!!! (A big lobster.)
Mmmmmmmmmmmm :Pposted by: James on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
"I presume is Kennedy is somehow unaware of the fact that a judge doesn't personally write all the opinions he votes on?"
In how many such cases has Alito ruled in favor of the plaintiff and what's his normal rate of decision writing?posted by: rilkefan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
"I presume is Kennedy is somehow unaware of the fact that a judge doesn't personally write all the opinions he votes on?"
Do the clerks make the Justices' decisions for them, too? Do the Justices not even read what the clerks write in their name? Maybe we should stop confirming SCOTUS justices and start confirming clerks.
Regarding Harriet Miers - well, certainly there was "opposition across the board." But it was "partisan pressure from the extreme right of [the President's] party" that led to her withdrawal from consideration, long before she could get that "Up or down" vote the GOP is so intermittently fixated on. And the Right pressured her to withdraw, not because she was clearly unqualified for the position, but because she'd said and done things 20-odd years ago that made the Right doubt her ideological purity, esp. regarding abortion and homosexuals.
It always tickles me when conservatives complain about liberals 'pandering' to liberal interest groups (like women, racial/ethnic minorities, and working people), yet don't seem to think it's 'pandering' when policies and decisions are tailor-made for evangelists who wish to use federal funds for religious purposes, and industries who wish to undermine worker and consumer safety.
It reminds me of a line from an old Spenser novel, in which one of the characters, referring to a RW nut who's been funding white supremacist and militia groups, says, "[He] appears to be fearful that America will be overrun by Americans."posted by: CaseyL on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I'm trying to find the clause in the Constitution that requires either a swing vote or idealological balance on SCOTUS.
Based on my inability to find such clauses I would say almost every Democrat is in the running for dumbest comment, but the best is yet to come.
On one of the news programs this weekend the anchor predicted Teddy Kennedy would attack Alito's character. Is there a special award for irony?posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
A: While the entire Nation was justifiably stunned by Meir's nomination, the Democrats had neither the power nor the inclination to get her to withdraw her nomination.
B: As your link shows, the "most significant opposition" came from GOP members of the judiciary committee.
C:Patrick Leahy never mentioned "voting their conscience". On the other hand, the demented Tom Coburn made it clear (at least as far as clear-thinking is possible for Coburn), that a vote against Roe is all that matters to the most extreme faction of the Republican Party.
On the basis of rationality alone, Mr. Coburn is the victorposted by: Jim on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Jim. I have you to thank for getting me to read on in the first day's transcript, and I have to say that Coburn and Joe Biden are running neck and neck in the stupidity department. Unfortunately, exceprts don't really do Coburn justice (for which he should be thankful) and he should be "enjoyed" in his rampaging totality. But, to get the flavor of the logic, balance this:
I firmly believe that the court should take another direction on many of these moral issues that face us. If we're to honor the heritage of our country, whether it be in terms of religious freedom, whether it be in terms of truly protecting life, protecting not just the unborn but who comes next, the infirm, the elderly, the maimed, the disabled -- that's who comes next as we get into the budget crunch of taking care of those people in the years -- I believe we ought to have that debate honest and openly.
The real debate is we've had an activist court, and the American people don't want an activist court. And the real fear from those who might oppose you is that you'll bring the court back within a realm where the American people might want us to be with a Supreme Court; one that interprets the law, equal justice under the law, but not advancing without us advancing, the legislative body advancing, ahead of you.
And, here is just a ramble that needs to be savored:
I asked Chief Justice Roberts about this definition of life -- you know, what is life? The Supreme Court can't figure it out or doesn't want us to figure it out; the fact that we know that there is no life if there's no heartbeat and brainwaves. We know that in every state and every territory. But when we have heartbeat and brain waves, we refuse to accept it as the presence of life -- this lack of logic of which we approach this issue because we like and we favor convenience over ethics. We favor convenience over the hard parts of life that actually make us grow.
posted by: Appalled Moderate on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Cornyn's dismayed view that Alito "doesn't start on a level playing field" seems based simply on not having enough pre-established yes votes, rather than the Roberts' voting process - which may concern him, but isn't debateably relevant.
Tsk, tsk.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Sen J. Sessions from Alabama:
"You used the word 'inapt'...I didn't even know there was such a word as 'inapt', but in any event...."posted by: John Tennert on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
You have to give some props to Grassley for asking the hard-hitting questions:
"GRASSLEY: So, Judge Alito, do you believe that the executive branch should have unchecked authority?
ALITO: Absolutely not, Senator.
ALITO: Nobody in this country is above the law, and that includes the president. "
Well, I'm certainly glad we've cleared THAT up. Grassley's whole questioning period reads like a bad third-grade civics class. I'm surprised he didn't ask Alito how a bill becomes a law.
posted by: I'llbeyou on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
*ALITO: "Nobody in this country is above the law, and that includes the president."*
..because, of course, if you interpret that the Constitution provides the executive those wartime powers to disregard the law, then it's legal to act illegally. Just another in a string of paradoxical conservative rationalizations.
"Less than forthcoming" theory: is it possible Alito is likey trying to sneak a few slightly moderate views past the far right as much as he's trying to hide staunch conservative views from the Dems? Any lessons learned from Miers?posted by: wishIwuz2 on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Durbin (2006): "You have refused to refute that statement in the 1985 job application. I'm concerned. Many people will leave this hearing with a question, that maybe you will be the . . . deciding vote" in a decision to overturn Roe. http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/campaignforthecourt/2006/01/sen_durbin_1.html
Durbin (1985): "I believe we should end abortion on demand, and at every opportunity I have translated this belief into votes in the House of Representatives. . . . Also, notwithstanding the result in Webster, I continue to believe the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade should be reversed." http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/campaignforthecourt/2006/01/sen_durbin_1.html
posted by: PD Shaw on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Just because it was simply astounding that the Democrats are trying to give the opposite impression:
Senator Hatch: "So let me just ask you directly, on the record, are you against women and minorities attending colleges?"posted by: Mark on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
My Senator, Diane Feinstein, does not even know the meaning of the word hypothetical...
What a moron!
ALITO: What I said in the opinion and what I will reiterate this afternoon is that it would have been a very different case for me. I don't think I can express an opinion on how I would have decided a hypothetical case.
FEINSTEIN: It's not hypothetical. I'm just asking you, if there were findings as you said, you might have sustained the law.posted by: Miller's Time on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
This is a difficult contest. So many Senators are vying for our attention in the "most stupid remarks" category, but I know that there will always be a clear winner in this Senate. Who else? Of course it's obvious: The one, the only, last in his law school class, last in ethics, first in drinking, first in womanizing and adultry, and in a close tie with Joe Biden, last in general intelligence. I give you, please take him, Edward Fitzgerald Kennedy. NO CONTEST HERE. Anything this imbecile says will qualify for the award, so by sheer volume of stupid remarks, he wins.posted by: Jack Lifton on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Joe Biden. Anything he says is stupid.posted by: pchuck on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Woops...Kennedy just made a reference to Alito's promise of recusal "not carrying much weight".posted by: sonicfrog on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I mislinked Durbin's 1985 pro-life statement. Here it is: http://www.nrlc.org/Judicial/Durbin/Durbin1989ReverseRoe.pdfposted by: PD Shaw on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Can't we use the judging philosophy of the Special Olympics, and declare everyone a winner? Seems kind of appropriate, given the candidates ...posted by: Mike G in Corvallis on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
None of them seem to have a wealth of brain power. But then, neither do any of you.posted by: Fernie on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I wonder why they even hold hearings. It is all about how long people can talk without saying anything.posted by: Lord on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
My vote has to be a joint one for both Durbin and Schumer asking about abortion being "settled law." If it's so damned settled, why are we still arguing about it?posted by: Steve on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Can anyone cite a reference in the law that specifically makes reference to "the little guy?" Both parties seem to be preoccupied with this and they appear to be equally sizist in their remarks, and sexist too, though it would be humorous to hear anyone on the Senate refer to the little gal, the little woman, or any similar moniker. Perhaps "the little person" is just too nondescript, even for Senator Schumer.posted by: charles austin on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Senator Schumer: How can you give a simple, "Yes" answer for freedom of speech, but discuss stare decisis when I ask you about the right to abortion?
Gave Judge Alito the perfect chance to hit a home run with right to lifers, original intent folks and perhaps anyone who has read the Constitution or Roe or Casey.posted by: Toquam on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
How can anyone beat this? Saw it on TV this morning - pulled the quotes from Captain's Quarters.
SCHUMER: Does the Constitution protect the right to free speech?
ALITO: Certainly it does. That's in the First Amendment.
SCHUMER: So why can't you answer the question of: Does the Constitution protect the right to an abortion the same way without talking about stare decisis, without talking about cases, et cetera?
ALITO: Because answering the question of whether the Constitution provides a right to free speech is simply responding to whether there is language in the First Amendment that says that the freedom of speech and freedom of the press can't be abridged. Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution.posted by: red fish in a blue pond on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
"In an era when America is still is too divided by race and riches, judge Alioto (sic) has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job."
Ted K 1/9/06posted by: cornmeal48 on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Chuckie Schumer for this exchange yesterday:
Q: Does the Constitution protect free speech?
A: Yes, Senator, the First Amendment protects free speech.
Q. Well, why can you give me a straight answer on that issue but not give me a straight answer on abortion?
A. Because the text of the Constitution explicitly includes the term "free speech".
Can you say Alit-Ownedposted by: Gabriel Chapman on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Harriet Myers was opposed by the secular/intellectual arm of the Republican party - Krauthammer, George Will, John Fund...Only Ted Kennedy would think these guys are extremem.posted by: richard on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
It would seem to me that in matters of constitutional interpretation, there really is only one "little guy." That would be 5'4" James Madison, who drafted much of the original text. I would love to hear some nominee profess to be standing up for him.posted by: JD Flanagan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
OK. Dick Durbin gets a prize for arbitrary use of celebrity in this exchange:
DURBIN: Let me ask you, if I might, to reflect on a couple other things. You're a Bruce Springsteen fan?
I figure the Instalanche millions will nominate Ted Kennedy's valiant efforts to find out all about Judge Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton for awards.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I didn't catch the exact wording, but Sen. Sessions at one point asked Alito to confirm whether the words of the first amendment are actually there, and if so, he prodded him to confirm that these words actually contain meaning.
Maybe someone can follow up on the exact text.posted by: Jimmy Chalk on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I second the nomination of Senator Schumer by John Tennert for challenging Judge Alito on the work "inapt."
There are so many other good quotes, but attempting to sound erudite by brow beating someone that a word does not exist when that word indeed does exist -- anyway, it is a high risk strategy, and it makes a person doubly look the fool because one could simply shut up if one is not sure about a word.
The quotes pertaining to Senator's inane understanding of the Constitution are good, but stupid grasp of the English language takes the prize.posted by: Paul Milenkovic on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Actually Sen. Sessions' question about whether particular phrases in the Constitution contains meaning isn't a profoundly stupid one. As I understand it there's an important principle of Constitutional law that no provision of the Constitution should be rendered meaningless, and any argument that would do so 'proves too much.' This may be what Justices O'Connor and Thomas had in mind when they argued the Kelo decision would strip the the takings clause of all meaning. So the Senator's question isn't necessarily a bad one, though it's also nowhere near as clever as he probably thinks it is.posted by: Nathan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I'd like to nominate Sen. Schumer as well, but for something he said to reporters after the session. Talking to reporters, he tossed out this gem: "It should not be a situation that unless he says something wrong he is confirmed." In other words, he believes there should be no way in hell that Alito should be on the Supreme Court. Does someone want to remind Sen. Schumer that the burden of proof is on him and his fellow obstructionist Democrats buddies if they believe Judge Alito is unfit for the Supreme Court?posted by: Sixth Sense on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
My second submition comes from the right:
Today Specter was talking about the power of the Court and said the following:
"The Supreme Court DECIDED who was president when it ruled in Bush v. Gore in 2000."
This might not be an exact quote, but I was just too lazy and dumb founded to hit rewind on my TIVO.posted by: Miller's Time on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Maybe is a little too late, but I would to submit this quote from Senator FEINSTEIN
"I'm also concerned about the role the court will play in protecting individual rights in this and the next century."
We know that life expectancy is longer now, but did she really though that Alito will live to be 150 years old or more?
Here's a richly deserving nomination (paraphrased from memory):
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: If Congress had made findings, would you have agreed that the statute was constitutional?
ALITO: It would have been a very different case for me. I don't think I can tell you how I would have ruled in a hypothetical case.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: It's not hypothetical. I'm just asking you, would you have sustained the law if Congress had made findings?
Clearly the Senator doesn't grok "hypothetical."posted by: Nathan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
This contest was over long ago.
No matter what anyone says the most ridiculous thing said will be, without a doubt, these passages from John Cornyn's opening statement:
"No wonder many in America seem to believe that the court has become one more inclined to protect pornography than to protect religious expression.
Most people in America don't believe that "God" is a dirty word, but the sad fact is that some Americans are left to wonder whether the Supreme Court might have greater regard for it if it was."
He thinks the Supreme Court wants "God" to be a dirty word?--Truly nutty.posted by: The Disenfranchised Voter on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
ALITO: Because answering the question of whether the Constitution provides a right to free speech is simply responding to whether there is language in the First Amendment that says that the freedom of speech and freedom of the press can't be abridged. Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution.
Notice: Alito used the term "right" in reference to free speech and "issue" in reference to abortion.
Any number of statements regarding the "unitary executive" theory would be candidates, but this one is probably the best, from this morning's session:
Leahy: Under your theory of unitary executive are citizen suit provisions, such as those in our environmental laws, allowing citizens to act basically as a private attorneys general and sue polluters, are they constitutional?
ALITO: I don't see a connection between the unitary executive theory and that issue.posted by: Stuart Buck on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Senator Leahy a moment ago (again slightly paraphrased): "Judge Alito proudly proclaimed his membership in this group [CAP] dedicated to opposing women and minorities in college; a group that in would probably frown on his or my Italian ancestry. Was this just a way of pandering to the Reagan Administration?"posted by: Nathan on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
Casey --sounds like you're the one who needs to work on reading!
Sebastian is distinguishing between opinions a judge on a panel of judges is given to write, and those written by another member of that panel that said judge votes on.
If you've been paying any attention to this whole process, including the recent discussions and studies of Alito's votes and opinions, you would already know this. For goodness' sake, if Alito were allowing others to do his writing for him without knowing what they wrote, do you think he would not by now have been totally dismantled in the hearings?!
posted by: bruhaha on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I dunno, bruhaha. It didn't get Thurgood Marshall tossed off the court in his later years.posted by: JorgXMcKie on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I thought the following link contained a humorous evaluation of the Democratic Senators’ performances, but does anybody know if Senator Kohl actually asked the same question twice?posted by: ROA on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
How about Feinstein's coaching Kennedy to include "and now come the women," in his laundry list quote of bad things the CAP was saying. How ironic that mama Dianne had to sotta voce tug on daddy's sleeve and beg him to include women's rights abuse in his screed. She looked really silly as she tried to nudge big ole Teddy, who just laughed and ignored her. Doesn't she know Ted has a long history of dismissing women...like poor Mary Jo? THIS was hilarious, stupid, and deliciously full of irony.posted by: marybel on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
I have to give Kennedy the prize this time...
"We'll vote again, and again, and again, and again, and again...." (I think he was still saying this when the papers he wanted to vote on were being wheeled in)
Anyways, I believe someone above in the comments was appalled that clerks write thing and isn't it the Judge's job read bad agree blah, blah, blah
Well I would venture that should apply to the dimwits on the Judiciary Committee as well. How else to explain Kennedy's ridiculous hectoring of a magazine article that turns out to have been Satire!
Bad staff, bad,bad,bad staff!
HAposted by: toesover on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
The obvious prize has to go to Kennedy's stupid grandstanding over papers for Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a real sideshow of a sideshow and bottom-barrel-scraping to try to find something to stick on Alito...
It was so absurd, it left the GOP premptions to be close to silly, to wit:
Just because it was simply astounding that the Democrats are trying to give the opposite impression:
Senator Hatch: "So let me just ask you directly, on the record, are you against women and minorities attending colleges?"
And it could have gotten funnier than that. CAP's magazine, The Prospect, had as its editors Denish D'Souza and Laura Ingraham. A minority and a women, both far more involved in CAP as editors than Alito ever was (as just a subscriber), and both real minorities on campus - ivy league conservatives...
It would have been hilarious (er Hillary-ous) if the Republicans had brought *them* to the hearings and said "As editors for this CAP organization magazine, are you against allowing minorities and women to ivy league schools, like, say, Dartmouth?"
Laura Ingraham: Yeah, now that I think about it, they never should have let me in.
"Do the clerks make the Justices' decisions for them, too? Do the Justices not even read what the clerks write in their name? Maybe we should stop confirming SCOTUS justices and start confirming clerks."
Maybe you were joking and aren't really that ignorant, but only a single judge, chosen by the chief judge, writes the opinion in circuit courts. The other judges either join or dissent. So it does not follow that if a judge didn't write the opinion, then his clerk(s) must have done so. That's only one possibility.posted by: JMRobinson on 01.09.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]
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