First off, let me congratulate Senators Specter
and Leahy for moving yet another confirmation process along with
a civility that speaks well of the Senate.
As we all know, there's been a lot of discussion
in the country about how the Senate should approach this confirmation
process. There are some who believe that the President, having won
the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his
nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the Justice
is intellectually capable and an all-around nice guy. That once
you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be
no further question whether the judge should be confirmed.
I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that
the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe
that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an
examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record. And when
I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Samuel Alito,
I'm deeply troubled.
I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training
and qualifications necessary to serve. He's an intelligent man and
an accomplished jurist. And there's no indication he's not a man
of great character.
But when you look at his record - when it comes
to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost
every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against
the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against
upholding American's individual rights.
If there is a case involving an employer and an
employee and the Supreme Court has not given clear direction, he'll
rule in favor of the employer. If there's a claim between prosecutors
and defendants, if the Supreme Court has not provided a clear rule
of decision, then he'll rule in favor of the state. He's rejected
countless claims of employer discrimination, even refusing to give
some plaintiffs a hearing for their case. He's refused to hold corporations
accountable numerous times for dumping toxic chemicals into water
supplies, even against the decisions of the EPA. He's overturned
a jury verdict that found a company liable for being a monopoly
when it had over 90% of the market share at the time.
It's not just his decisions in these individual
cases that give me pause - it's that decisions like these are the
rule for Samuel Alito, not the exception.
When it comes to how checks and balances in our
system are supposed to operate - the balance of power between the
Executive Branch, Congress, and the Judiciary, Judge Alito consistently
sides with the notion that a President should not be constrained
by either Congressional acts or the check of the Judiciary. He believes
in the overarching power of the President to engage in whatever
the President deems to be appropriate policy. As a consequence of
this, I'm extraordinarily worried about how Judge Alito might approach
issues like wiretapping, monitoring of emails, or other privacy
concerns that we've seen surface over the last several months.
In sum, I've seen an extraordinarily consistent
attitude on the part of Judge Alito that does not uphold the traditional
role of the Supreme Court as a bastion of equality and justice for
United States citizens.
Should he be confirmed, I hope that he proves me
wrong. I hope that he shows the independence that I think is absolutely
necessary in order for us to preserve our liberties and protect