Hello, this is Barack Obama, and today is Tuesday,
January 31, 2006. As many of you may be aware, today is the vote
to confirm Judge Alito the Unites States Supreme Court. There's
been a lot of discussion in the country about how the Senate should
approach the confirmation process. There's some who believe that
the President, having won the election, should have complete authority
to appoint the nominee, and that the Senate should only examine
whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and is nice
to his wife, or she is nice to her husband. That, once you get beyond
issues of intellect and personal character, then there shouldn't
be further question as to whether the Judge should be confirmed.
I disagree with the view.
I believe that the Constitution calls for the Senate
to advise and consent, that, meaningful advice and consent includes
an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record. When
I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Judge Samuel Alito,
I am deeply troubled. I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training
and qualifications necessary to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.
He's a smart guy, there's no indication that he is not a man of
good character. But, when you look at his record, what is clear
is that when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution,
he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless.
If there is a case involving an employer and an employee, and the
Supreme Court has not given clear direction, Judge Alito will rule
in favor of the employer. If there is a claim between prosecutors
and defendants, if the Supreme Court has not already a clear rule
of decision then, Judge Alito will rule in favor of the state. 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 such as wire
tapping, monitoring of emails, or other privacy concerns that we
have 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
the United States citizen, and for that reason, I will be voting
against his confirmation. I do hope that if Judge Alito is confirmed,
he proves me wrong. I know that all the Senators who will be voting
against him ardently hope that the Supreme Court continues to serve
the vital role that it plays in preserving our liberties. Thank
you very much; I will talk to you guys next week.