November 1, 2005

That Alito/Scalia contrast again.

Here's a free link to get to Akiba Covitz's TNR piece saying why Alito is not the same as Scalia. The article mostly contrasts the personalities of the two men -- and goes quite far in painting Scalia as an unpleasant person. It picks out a single case to portray Alito as less than "a caustic conservative":
In the 2003 case Williams v. Price, ... Alito wrote the majority opinion overturning a lower court decision in which a convicted first-degree murderer was not permitted to call into question his verdict after a juror was heard making racist comments. This was a grisly murder and just the kind of annoying habeas petition that those of Scalia's ilk think clog the judicial system. To his credit, Alito authored the opinion that provided for a new hearing.
In fairness, we could also pull out a few Scalia opinions that would resonate for liberals. Really, even Scalia is not the caricature that is used in these contrasts. But the challenge should be to understand Alito. Must Scalia distract us? The strongest reason for continuing to talk about Scalia is that the President campaigned on the promise that he would nominate persons like Scalia and Thomas. So why aren't we talking about Thomas too? Because Thomas isn't Italian?

16 comments:

gj said...

No, because Thomas's outspoken comments aren't as abrasive or as memorable.

Meade said...

So why aren't we talking about Thomas too? Because Thomas isn't Italian?

Neither is Scalia. He's American. Like Thomas.

The Exalted said...

dont tell me you're on this nonsensical "italian" meme too ann.

alito has been compared to scalia since 1992.

moreover, thomas, to my knowledge, not only says nothing of consequence, he says nothing at all. he is renowned for failing to ask any questions during oral arguments.

try to avoid morphing into chris matthews and maintain some respectability here.

Jack said...

I don't know why most people are not talking about Thomas, but I think the media is not talking about him because they have always tried to portray him as a watered-down version of Scalia with no mind of his own. The meme is basically that since Thomas doesn't think like other black men (ie is not a liberal) he must be taking his cues from Scalia. This despite the fact that the two men have distinct judicial philosophies and have frequently disagreed. Eugene Volokh discussed this here.

Gerry said...

Because in "Scalito", the dominant part is the "Scali" part common to Nino's last name, while the "to" part is much smaller, and is just phoenetic to the start of Thomas instead of the exact spelling.

Pogo said...

Gerry, that's far too much explanation.

The truth is that any justice on the Supreme Court that didn't make the Democrat's short list deserves ridicule, scorn, hyperbole, and talk of The Last Days. The mockery depends on their gender, race, and ethnicity. You know, the usual stereotypes liberals avoid, except when they don't.

Compromise and reasoned discussion are permissible only after the revolution, man.

Scipio said...

Because Alitomas sounds like something very unpleasant, whereas Scalito is euphonious.

Crank said...

So why aren't we talking about Thomas too? Because Thomas isn't Italian?

Because Alito is brilliant and the critics can't admit that Thomas is also a highly intelligent guy.

Jacob said...

In fairness, we could also pull out a few Scalia opinions that would resonate for liberals.

Slate did just that, writing an article the mirror image of the Covitz piece.

ziemer said...

exalted,

the idea that thomas says nothing of conseqence is absurd.

what about his lone concurrence in lopez -- that the statute is not just unconstitutional, but the whole post-new deal interpretation of the commerce clause is wrong?

or his lone dissent in the affirmative action case?

or his lone dissent in kelo, that even if property is blighted, the government shouldn't be able to take it for private purposes?

in three of the most important decisions in recent years, he wrote what were, by far, the most memorable opinions.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

"Alitomas" sounds like a holiday where good little girls and boys get machine guns, and bad little girls and boys get breath mints.

anonymous said...

"...in three of the most important decisions in recent years, he wrote what were, by far, the most memorable opinions."

I going to lose my supper, if you keep talking like that.

Matt said...

"Memorable" doesn't necessarily mean good. I mean, O'Connor's opinion in that death case where there were substantial claims of innocence that begins "This is a case about federalism." is certainly memorable as well, though not for positive reasons.

Simon said...

The more you read Alito's stuff, the less apt the Scalia comparison seems; he is, however, a fulfilment of the promise to appoint a Scalia/Thomas type, his opinions seeming very much closer than Thomas' than Scalia's.

Sadly, I think that when Our Hero leaves the court, we will not see his like again. On the bright side, I think we still have a good ten to fifteen years of Scalia to enjoy.

ziemer said...

anonymous,

it can't really be disputed that the thomas opinions are the most memorable in those three cases.

and as far as i'm concerned, they are all each the most correct opinion.

if you believe in unlimited government power, of course, i can see why you might disagree.

steve said...

Again I say "Scalitomas."