Lessons from the Alito Hearings

By Meehan, Mary | The Human Life Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Lessons from the Alito Hearings


Meehan, Mary, The Human Life Review


Little pig, little pig, let me come in," the hungry wolf called out to his potential dinner in the straw house.

"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," the little pig bravely replied.

"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in," the wolf roared. And he blew the house down.

This scenario worked well for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987, when they defeated the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court. But they have not defeated any Supreme Court nominee since Bork. The rise of conservative media, including television and radio talk shows, has done much to keep the hungry wolf away. So have the Internet websites, blogging, and e-mail campaigns of conservatives and pro-life activists. More helpful than anything else, though, has been the election of more pro-life members to the U.S. Senate. As many have said recently, elections do matter.

In the January 2006 Senate confirmation hearings for now-Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., Judiciary Committee Democrats huffed and puffed as hard as they could. Alito, with enormous patience, sat and listened to them for three days, answering many of the same questions over and over again. Although the Democrats knew they didn't have the votes to stop him, some accepted poor advice from Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy to filibuster against confirmation on the Senate floor. The full Senate quickly stopped the talkathon by a walloping 72-25 vote, then confirmed Alito by 58-42. Much like the hungry wolf, the Democrats had let frustration do them in. Roaring to their latest target that "I'm coming down the chimney to eat you," they had fallen into the pot of boiling water in the fireplace.

The Democrats are not happy campers after their defeat, but they will survive somehow. Undoubtedly they, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Alliance for Justice, and People for the American Way are trying to learn from their defeat in order to be more effective when the next Supreme Court vacancy occurs. If President Bush is able to place one more conservative on the Court within the next year or two, that should tip the balance on abortion and other key issues. Observers say another Bush nomination will trigger the "mother of all battles" over the Court's future.

Clearly, this is no time for opponents of Roe v. Wade, the Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion, to let down their guard. They are still at least one vote short of overturning Roe, unless they can persuade Justice Anthony Kennedy to change his mind. In fact, because of the growing weight of Roe as a precedent, they cannot be sure that either Justice Alito or Chief Justice John Roberts will vote to strike it down. So they, like their opponents, must review the Alito hearings in order to find lessons for the future. In a contribution toward that goal, I will review the Roe-related performances of Judiciary Committee senators, especially ones on the pro-life side. Then I will suggest a few ways to improve the confirmation process. Finally, I'll make a few suggestions about preparing a major case against Roe.

Rating the Senators and the Nominee

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who currently chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a feisty independent. A veteran Roe supporter, he had to promise-as a condition of his election as committee chairman-that he wouldn't use a "litmus test" against Bush nominees.1 He certainly has kept his word. While undergoing cancer treatment last year, he shepherded the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice through the Senate. In early 2006, he ran the Alito confirmation hearings with courtesy, fairness, an occasional flash of humor, and much-needed moral support for Judge Alito and his family. After a rough day of questioning, the chairman remarked, "The crowd has pretty well emptied out, but the Alitos are all still here."2 When the long interrogation was nearly over, he complimented Alito on his "remarkable patience. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lessons from the Alito Hearings
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.