November 7, 2005

"Court Choice Is Conservative by Nature, Not Ideology."

That's the title of a quite long, front page piece in the NYT by Janny Scott that I think marks a turning point in opinion about Samuel Alito. The NYT has already editorialized against Alito and has seemed to be eager to paint him as an ideologue who deserves a good Borking. Scott's article portrays Alito as a man of ideal judicial demeanor, the furthest thing from an ideologue:
Mr. Alito, the analytical, circumspect son of an analytical, circumspect father, who rose to become a federal appeals court judge and is now President Bush's nominee to become the next justice of the Supreme Court, is remembered from those days in the Office of Legal Counsel for his superior research powers, his probing brain, his wrestling with the questions and his disinclination to see any issue as a slam dunk.

It remains to be seen what kind of justice Judge Alito might turn out to be, if he gets the chance: whether, for instance, he is the upper-case conservative that the right may hope for and many on the left fear. An examination of several chapters in his life suggests he is conservative by temperament, upbringing and experience - conditions that appear to have shaped his approach to life and his work more than any narrow ideological niche....

Throughout his life - at Yale Law School, as a government lawyer, as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals - Judge Alito has earned respect, even friendship, across the political spectrum. Some who describe themselves as liberals say they admire what they call Judge Alito's meticulousness and fair-mindedness - traits he appears to have come by early in life.
There's much, much more in that vein. The photos are awfully sympathetic too:

Perhaps the NYT has gotten the message that mainstream liberals are going to look bad opposing this man.


Stephen Bundy said...

I mean honestly, Ann, you are applying right wing levels of cynicism to the Times. How about: Perhaps Janny Scott is a fine reporter whose newspaper gave her the freedom and space to follow the evidence wherever it led her? Give her the same presumptive credit you demand for Alito.

Ann Althouse said...

Steven: What? I'm saying Scott is telling it straight and following the evidence. You think the Times just gave her freedom to publish an extra long article that began on the front page? The tone of this article is very different from what they were running last week.

Unknown said...

Truly, Stephen, how do you not see that? It's all over... like, the one article Prof. Althouse has even mentioned in the last week, regarding Alito's friendliness to business. That was clearly hostile to the judge, and the fact that they ran this story today clearly means they got the memo that Americans just won't stand for it! What other explanation could there be? It's as plain as day!

Sarcasm aside, I think Stephen's made an excellent point, and I think things would be improved if every NYT story wasn't immediately engaged as another front in the culture war.

Sam said...

That photo of Alito as a kid is just priceless. Are you kidding me with that? Have they ever run an adorable photo of GWB or Hillary Clinton as a 5 year old? It's weird and irrelevant.

Undecided said...


I beg your pardon. From his puggy-cheeked, bright-eyed look, toddler Sam was on the phone to his bookie. According to his mother,he was fond of the ponies. Since many psychologists believe that one's personality is more or less set early on, this goes to the very core character of the boy, now a 50 year-old fuddy-duddy apppeals court judge. The relevant questions are: a) Is he still a fan of horseracing? b) How much is he in debt to his bookie, and will his bookie break his kneecaps should he vote to overturn Roe? c) Was Secretariat on steroids?

I'm not horsing around with you, Sam, about Sam. I submit you that whether little Sam played horsey as juvie, is relevant to his stance on juvenile justice. Should incarcerated kids not be permitted to read Horse and Rider magazine, or is that a violation of their 1st Amendment rights. Hee-Haw!

Hecla Ma said...

THAT'S a cute kid.

You can't oppose that kid!

vbspurs said...

Is that really Alito as a little kid?

Don't get me wrong -- present-day Sam Alito is no Hulk, but that little kid is gorgeous.

He could be a kid movie star, like Freddie Bartholomew or Jackie Cooper.


vbspurs said...

*polite cough*

Since we're on the topic of Conservative Natures, not ideologies, if you'll permit:

Why People are Conservative


The Exalted said...

the NYT has been fairly respectful/relentlessly positive of the conservative agenda since their last "mission statement" where it pledged to appeal to "rural areas," whatever that means.

this is true with respect to the GOP agenda, the ID debate, and the GOP nominees.

this alito piece is just more of the same.