Judge Alito Takes Sen. Schumer to School on the Constitution

By January 11, 2006Judicial Nominations

In among all the flapping jaws and bad theater that is the Alito hearings was this extraordinary and priceless exchange between Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Judge Alito:

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.

SCHUMER: Well, OK. I know you’re not going to answer the question…

This exchange was notable if only for the Senator’s apparent ignorance of the difference between rights that are written in the Constitution and rights that are interpreted from the Constitution. To help Sen. Schumer and his staff, we provide this link to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, in which the right to free speech is quite clearly stated. And here’s a link to the full Constitution, just as a little refresher.

It’s been fun to watch Judge Alito gently and calmly swat one challenge after another like so many flies buzzing about his head. This was but one more. Indeed, he could’ve been forgiven for saying, “Duh!” in response to the question from Sen. Schumer.

Follow this link to see a list of Senate Judiciary Committee members, along with their phone and fax numbers and hot links to their e-mail addresses. Please use it to weigh in and urge them to confirm Judge Alito and to bring his nomination to a swift up-or-down vote.