The Alito Hearings: Final Thoughts on Yesterday’s Senate Blog Event

By January 12, 2006Judicial Nominations

It was great to be a part of the Senate blog event yesterday. It was interesting to watch the hearings in a group and to hear from the Senators and the clerks who stopped by. A few thoughts linger a day later:

— Listening to Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Grassley (R-IA), you realize you are listening to the voices of experience. Combined, these men have many terms, many decades of service in this august body. Both had the same overriding frustration and observation, i.e., they both lamented the death of comity and condemned the ugly tone of these hearings. As we quoted Senator Grassley, he said this was more like an ugly political campaign, not a Supreme Court nomination. He cited Hamilton and Federalist 78 — advise and consent, period. Sen. Hatch made the same point. Asked how things have changed in his many years in the Senate — and on the Judiciary Committee — Hatch looked almost sad, wistful, recalling the comity of old and sickened by its degradation. Decorum needs to be restored. Judge Alito is a good, intelligent man. He deserves the respect of every US Senator, whether or not he will get their vote.

— The other thing that struck us, very powerful, was the discussion with his former clerks. We talked to them as a group and individually. Their tone when talking about Judge Alito is almost reverential. It was palpable that they held him in the highest regard. Asked what irked them most, they all seemed visibly restrained when trying to describe their disgust at the attacks on his character. From left and right, they praised him effusively as a judge and as an individual. It was incredibly persuasive. There were no cameras, just a few bloggers, in very close quarters. The clerks were very credible, very powerful in their statements. Former clerk Keith Levenberg’s comments about Alito’s familiarity with business issues (on which he will spend far more of his time than the stuff he’s being questioned about), was a reminder of why it matters for business to be involved in this fray.

All in all it was a good day and again, we’re happy for the invite, if for no other reason than to be a part of history. We’re glad we could bring you with us, hope you all enjoyed it.

Here’s the Judiciary Committee roster. Please call, fax or e-mail them and tell them to quit horsing around, quit the character assassination of this fine man and let’s get on with a vote.

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