And I'm not disparaging their role in the process or diminishing the issues they raise. It's just that I already know all that, and I know it will all be repeated when they are actually asking questions and only at that point will interesting discussion take place.
I did watch Alito's presentation. He begins with a tribute to Sandra Day O'Connor, quite appropriately. He talks at length about his parents and the values they taught him. Then he takes up the subject of his formative years in college, in the late 60s and early 70s (which is when I went to college too):
It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn’t help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.I doubt if he would have liked me or any of the people I hung around with. By the way, when I was going to art school at the University of Michigan, it was right next to the law school building. I used to look at that building and think everyone in there is either evil or a fool!
Alito goes on to speak of his career as a law clerk, a lawyer, and a judge:
When I became a judge, I stopped being a practicing attorney. And that was a big change in role.This will be an important theory, which, we can anticipate, will be relied on in response to many questions in the coming days.
The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. But a judge can’t think that way. A judge can’t have any agenda, a judge can’t have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge certainly doesn’t have a client.Nicely and simply put. Of course, all this is quite sound and everyone with any sense agrees.
The judge’s only obligation -- and it’s a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires.
Good judges develop certain habits of mind. One of those habits of mind is the habit of delaying reaching conclusions until everything has been considered.That's another theory that will be relied on repeatedly in the coming days. My refusal to answer questions about actual cases shows that I am a good judge. It's true!
Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds based on the next brief that they read, or the next argument that’s made by an attorney who’s appearing before them, or a comment that is made by a colleague during the conference on the case when the judges privately discuss the case.
And there is nothing that is more important for our republic than the rule of law. No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law.No person is above the law, not even the President, but the real question is: What will he say the law is?
Maybe we'll find out a little something about that this week. I certainly hope so.
Oh, how did he look? How did he sound? Was he "ragged" and New Jerseyan? He seemed fine to me. We shall see if he frazzles under questioning. I doubt he will.