SUPREME COURT; Alito Passing Test

Article excerpt

Judge Samuel Alito is well suited to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Independent observers have generally acknowledged as much since earlier this month, when the American Bar Association gave him its highest possible rating. In the past, Senate Democrats have described those rankings as "the gold standard" for evaluating judicial nominees

Alito, like John Roberts before him, also has an ideal judicial temperament. Not only has he been articulate and thoughtful during his confirmation hearings, he remained calm and cordial throughout a series of attacks that sent his wife scurrying from the room in tears.

A CLASSIC CONSERVATIVE

Also like Roberts, Alito is being called "conservative" by critics.

They are correct in a judicial sense, not a partisan one. Alito believes the job of courts is to determine what the Constitution says, not divine new meanings the authors never intended.

That seems reasonable. Public policy generally should be established by elected representatives of the people, who are accountable at the ballot box, not lifetime appointees to the federal bench.

If the supreme law of the land is to change, that should be done the way the founders intended -- with a proposal by Congress or a convention, then ratification by the states.

Alito is being attacked by partisans who dislike him because he isn't likely to push their agenda.

However, the role of judges is not to implement policies favored by some -- or even a majority -- of the Senate. Rather, as U.S. Rep., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. insists, it's to be a "fair and unbiased umpire, one who calls every game according to the existing rules."

AN INDEPENDENT RECORD

Alito's critics also are trying to portray him as a right-wing idealogue. He is not.

In a 100-page research paper, a University of California-Berkeley law professor measured judicial independence by comparing how often federal appellate judges disagreed with judges of their own political party, as opposed to those of the other party.

He concluded that only three were more independent than Alito; 94 were less independent. …