January 28, 2006

"Judge Alito's nomination is the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as individuals and as a nation."

So "[h]istory will show," predicts Senator Hillary Clinton, who's announced her support of the filibuster.
Her move seems to put her at odds with New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer, who spent last week privately arguing that a filibuster would damage Democrats' chances of taking back the Senate this year, according to party sources.
Is Schumer a savvier political analyst than Clinton? Or is Clinton just in a different political position?
Analysts said Clinton had little choice but to back the filibuster, given Kerry's Thursday announcement that he was reviving the stop-Alito movement. For all the talk of Clinton's shift to the center on abortion, she can ill-afford to let a possible adversary outflank her on the left among liberals who favor abortion rights, according to Jennifer Duffy, who monitors the Senate for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

"It's an empty gesture," Duffy said of Clinton's announcement. "What Democratic primary voter is going to vote for her if she didn't do everything to oppose Alito? ... She had to join John Kerry."
She's taking precautions against Kerry getting the jump on her in the '08 campaign? How incredibly lame that would be -- especially if this silly fear of him as a candidate is expressed by following him.


Anonymous said...

Is Michael Kinsley making things difficult for Constitutional Law Professors that rationalize unethical behavior? Why Lawyers Are Liars -- Apparently, It's All In a Life's Work What if that practicing lawyer should be appointed as a judge? Alito warned senators not to assume that the decisions of a lower federal court reflect a judge's true beliefs, because lesser judges are bound by rulings of the Supreme Court. And if that lower-court judge is nominated to join the Supremes? We all know that in the confirmation process, etiquette, if not ethics, requires evasion, if not outright lying, because to reveal any actual legal view would amount to "prejudging" potential cases.

And, finally, even Supreme Court justices are bound to some extent by the doctrine of stare decisis , which is the judicial equivalent of papal infallibility. Rulings lose the mystical authority they depend on when people start to get the idea they can be reversed at will. The actual power of stare decisis in restraining Supreme Court justices from saying and doing what they believe is unclear. The capstone untruth of a successful legal career is promising, under stare decisis , to suppress your true beliefs more than you really will.

knox said...

Bad move, Hillary. I thought she was trying to cultivate a more moderate image.... now Condi, SHE would never do anything so contrived, so lame! : P

SippicanCottage said...

"And, finally, even Supreme Court justices are bound to some extent by the doctrine of stare decisis , which is the judicial equivalent of papal infallibility."

That is a fascinating sentence, and very telling.

Conservatives believe in stare decisis because they don't think the courts should turn everybody's life upside down every ten minutes. Socialists believe in stare decisis because they think they've got everything going their way so far and want to leave the table with all their chips while the game is still going on.

The idea that lawyers are "wicked smart," and so should be telling us all what to do, is comical. I've dealt with dozens of lawyers, and I believe I don't share the non-legal world's "I hate lawyers vibe" because I never figured they were supposed to tell me what to do. They were supposed to help me do what I was trying to do. And they were fairly pleasant, on the whole.

People don't like lawyers, in general. People don't care for politicians much either. A judge is a politically connected lawyer. The supreme court is the pinnacle of that pile of dissafections.

To me, a supreme court justice is like a plumber. I want them to make the finless brown trout go away. I don't want them to tell me where to locate the toilet.

Michael Kinsley, and perhaps some commenters here, think the justices who tell you the toilet should go in the middle of the living room, and then left it filled with brown trout anyway, are infallible. I don't.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeez, that Kinsley thing is poorly written! Quxxo, how about giving us a clue why you think something is significant before just posting a long quote and expecting us to read it. I ignored it until Sippican wrote about it, then I looked at it.... Why do you present it like it's some devastating chunk of prose? That's just weird!

KCFleming said...

quxxo reprints Kinsley's claim that "...Supreme Court justices are bound to some extent by the doctrine of stare decisis , which is the judicial equivalent of papal infallibility"

Really? When did that get in the Constitution? And how does that jibe with Kinsley's own citing of Brown?

Precedent is not infallible. What nonsense.

As for Clinton. Wow. What a quandary the far-left has put its candidates in. Demand fealty to a policy that does not hold majority support on pain of exclusion from the base. Demonstrate fealty and lose the majority vote.

It's a win-win!!

PatCA said...

Well said, Sippican. Statements to the contrary by commenters or by Hillary & Co. are so overblown that they are creating their own (fatal) blowback.

How can Hillary keep it all straight? One week she's appealing to 'this' base, another week to 'that' base. My neck hurts from watching her.

Meanwhile, the American people continue in their search for credible national security practices in a free and open society. Increasingly, it looks like Hillary is not the One who we can trust to do this.

XWL said...

Is Michael Kinsley making things difficult for the Newspaper Editors who continue to hire him despite his frequently demonstrated inability to write well or cogently?

(sorry no lenghtly quote, you'll have to live with that absence)

(but when's the last time anyone with sense has quoted Kinsley in a positive way?)

RogerA said...

I think this subject of this post is probably a function of the previous post--My guess would be that Senator Clinton is betting she will have to get the support of the Kos and DU crowd in order to be competitive in the primaries; at that point, I would anticipate her trying to move back to the center--It really does seem to me she has a remarkably tin ear when it comes to politics: the paper trail she is leaving is going to be grist for republican mills. This would have been a good time to occupy the center and make some vague statements about not jeopardinzing future nominees by having the filibuster removed, citing what appears to me to be general support of Alito in the public, yada yada....

She may be painting her self in corner on the left.

SippicanCottage said...

Can't we have some fun with the language with these things? Why can't the headline read:

Hillary Dons Her Filibustier

I mean, come on, it's the weekend, let's party!

knox said...

pat said: "My neck hurts from watching her."


Anonymous said...

As I've said before here Ann, it's nonsensical and irrational to believe that judges are without bias and that they can rule without those biases coming to play and that notion that discussing legal issues would amount to their prejudging a case is a dodge. And that dodge should be loudly and publically denied by law professors.

Everyone has a bias. The way you deal with that is through transparency.

Hillary says that Alito is the tipping point. Kinsley agrees saying that Alito does not believe in stare decisis and that Alito does believe strongly in overturning Roe. Kinsley says that Alito and Roberts and Rehnquist are baldfaced liars and lied to the Senate during their hearings.

The evidence is that Alito is a liar, and either lied to get a job in 1985 or lied to get a job in 2005.

Hardly the sort of character one would want on the Supreme Court.

Unless you believe as Kinsley and apparently you do, that being a bald faced liar, and considering that to be the ethical choice, is part and parcel of a successful legal career.

This maybe one reason the public loves lawyers.

verification word: shAkspr

Anonymous said...

Here's another judge, Richard Posner that believes the ends justifies the means.

We had to destroy the law in order to save the Presidency.

Verification Word: oncopr3znit.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: You imagine you're bringing up new material when you're not. These insights of yours couldn't be staler. Slapping words like "liar" on them doesn't make it any fresher. That's a stale old move too. Your comments need to be briefer, clearer, and stripped of invective if you want to be taken seriously.

Paddy O said...

quxxo, you use logic in a curious way.

Let me track with you. Kinsley says Alito is a liar. Quxxo says Alito is a liar. Thus Alito is a liar. Then, if you support Alito as a justice, you believe a bald faced liar belongs on the Supreme cout.

The evidence for Alito being a liar, thus establishing the foundation of your argument is that Kinsely says so, you say so, and state that Alito lied on a 1985 job application.

I guess, however, that one might, as strange as this might sound, take the testimony of the ABA, colleagues on the third circuit, and other assorted people who actually know and have worked with Alito over the, albeit quite convincing, testimony of Kinsley and you.

Strange as it might sound some folks are not as convinced by the "Because I said so with enthusiam and conviction" argument as much as the "I've worked alongside him for many years" testimony. So, I'm thinking your argument using "Alito is a liar", oddly enough, isn't enough to justify your conclusion.

How's this: Alito is honest and balanced, because his colleagues say so as well as his judicial record, so those that want honest and balanced justices on the Supreme Court would want Alito to be confirmed.

OddD said...

As I've said before here Ann, it's nonsensical and irrational to believe that judges are without bias and that they can rule without those biases coming to play

All evaluation is informed by education and previous evaluations. This is the basis of progress (when it occurs). However, that "bias", as you put it, need not be political in nature.

Cynicism is fun and all, but I'd like to think that it's possible that the judges actually do listen impartially to the evidence, weigh it wisely, and then come to a conclusion, rather than starting with a conclusion and working backwards. (That's what journalism is for.)

Henry said...

One thing that strikes me about Kerry's call for the filibuster that is characteristic of the man is the placement of personal regard over the interests of his party. Democrat leaders know that the Republicans have successfully used the judge obstruction issue against Democrat candidates in the South and Midwest and don't want to give them more facts to spin, especially from a lost game.

Furthermore, Kerry's gambit totally embarasses the moderate Democratic senators who have already announced that they will vote for Alito. Even those who planned to vote quietly against, like Harry Reid, would rather not have their constituents see them dancing the tune of a bunch of damn yankees.

Another thing that is characteristic is that once again, Kerry, and the Democrats, are defining themselves by what the are against.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Sippican: "finless brown trout"


chuck b. said...

And shouldn't that be "was" the tipping point? By the time "history" gets around to showing stuff it's usually already happened.

Ironically, if she's right, Hillary's precognitions provide no reason to vote for her in '08. The tipping point will have come and gone.

Goatwhacker said...

I think Hillary Clinton is in a quandary. On the one hand she has watched her husband win two presidential elections playing to the center and probably believes that is the most effective way to achieve her own goals.

On the other hand a large portion (possibly even the majority but certainly the most insistent) of her party is demanding a move to the left. As she was probably the more liberal of the Bill/Hillary duo, this probably resonates with her core beliefs and places her in the role she played for eight years.

So while in one sense she is forced to decide between what is more advantageous politically, in another she has to decide between two inner voices, one pragmatic and the other idealistic.

I have gained some measure of respect for Hillary over the past few years mainly because of her willingness to speak her mind and not necessarily follow the far-left line. Maybe it was all calculating BS on her part, I don't know.

Supporting a filibuster looks either like pandering to her base, or a return to her earlier liberalism. Either way it will hurt the image she wants to project to swing voters.

Surprisingly, my verification word is a jumble of letters and does not ironically relate to the subject.

SippicanCottage said...

I made Ruth Anne laugh a little, and so, I am a successful human being today.

But that pales in comparison to the frisson I got from both praise and a little (likely unintentional) wordplay from patca. She said "blowback." That completes the toilet reference.

"Blowback" has a very real and specific definition in the toilet design world, and I'm not sure you folks want to know what it is. I can assure you it's very much higher now that Al Gore and his minions decided we were running out of water -- of all things -- and we better legislate the amount of water allowed to flush a toilet.

Perhaps the Supreme Court nominees should tell us in the hearings how much water a toilet should hold according to the constitution. They better answer, or they'll be biased liars.

chuck b. said...

You think Hillary's worried about Kerry? Think how Feinstein must feel about Sheehan!

"U.S. peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, said she was considering running for office against Sen. Diane Feinstein while she waited for the California lawmaker to back a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito." Link.

Too funny.

Or rather, how sad.

(I wonder why the writer decided to refer to Sheehan as "U.S. peace activist" when just "peace activist" would do [however incorrect that nomenclature may or may not be].)

Gaius Arbo said...

Perhaps this piece by Lileks should be a must read before posting comments.


Or not, I suppose it won't really help. Most of the worst offenders are unreachable.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I find her relatively late tactic interesting because I always viewed Bill Clinton who, while a great pol, could rarely make a decision until he heard what everyone else thought. Only then, he made up his mind (after checking the wind direction).

You may recall, re the 2004 election analysis, he never said a peep until about 3-4 weeks later and the media acted as if he was some wise man.

btw, if you can't tell, I can't stand either one but did vote for Clinton in 1992.

And Ann, you are correct. If Hillary is worried about Kerry, she is far from the the smartest woman in America. IMHO, that would be either you or Condi.

Anonymous said...

Censored News Stories of 2005: Top 10 Project Censored News Stories

The majority of these stories this year are about President Cuckoo Bananas and his claim to extraordinary powers and the shtupping, I mean tipping of the balance of powers.

Read about these stories and think what it might mean to have an activist judge that believes firmly in the supremacy of the judicial branch over the other two arms of government.

Verification word: cR0nyzm

KCFleming said...

quxxo ~ In my past life, when I was a center-left voter, I had a passing interest in the Project Censored News Stories.But year after year, their breathless chicken little stories seemed to be just a little too paranoid and consistently anti-US (i.e., The Worst Country That Ever Existed).

I dunno, but even though I was desperate to believe them at the time, their derisive conclusions always suggested to me that they lacked some basic knowledge of economics, history, and human behavior. Moreover, I could never answer one essential question:

If these stories are "censored", how is it I was able to read them with ease, year after year? How can there be 25 such censored items every year, and espite my knowing of them, I was not in jail? Sorta made their credibility suspect.

P.S. Writing Cuckoo Bananas is sorta cute and everything, but does anyone really take you seriously when you write that? It's quite 6th gradish, doncha think?

SippicanCottage said...

I don't know, I found quxxo's "president cuckoo bananas" Mel Brooks tone a rather lighthearted sort of thing for a change.

This article is on the front page of FARK.com right now. Putting it here seems really weak. My favorite comment there is someone named "cream filling" offering what he supposed was the next in the list:

#26. The government has developed a special mind control ray that permeates tin foil, the technology runs on baby seals, and your taxes are paying for it.

teh funnay! roxxor! lol111!!11

My personal favorite on the list was screeching about the evil people wanting to mine coal without a shaft despoiling the landscape. This is offered by a guy who was here last week screeching about how these same evil people wanna murder miners by sending them down into a shaft with nothing but a candle, a trowel, and rags soaked in gasoline for dust masks and so forth.

"You just keep thinking Butch, that's what you're good at..."

wildaboutharrie said...

I don't think Clinton is pandering. I think she believes that Alito on the bench would "roll back decades of progress, and roll over when confronted with an administration too willing to play fast and loose with the rules".

That's not to say she's NOT playing catch-up with Kerry on some level. But I don't think it's a pure pander at all.

Mac VerStandig said...

And Russ Feingold has jumped on the bandwagon too...

Bruce Hayden said...

What is really interesting to me is that it is putting Harry Reid into a box. His state is going red, and he is looking more and more like a loon, and catering to his luntic fringe. His next election is going to be interesting.

Just got back from there, and my girlfriend remembers meeting him before he hit the big time and swerved left.

I fully expect the Republicans to put their resources into beating another Democratic Senate Minority leader next time he runs. Should be fun - though the state is a bit loony itself.

Bruce Hayden said...

I also don't think that Sen. Feinstein is quacking in her boots about Ms. Sheehan's run for her seat. I know the state is flaky (one friend of mine, with relatives there, calls it the "land of fruit and nuts"). But I don't see Sheehan winning either the nomination or the general election. Esp. not the later, so the former is even more unlikely. They may be a little crazy there, but not crazy enough for the Democrats to give up a fairly secure seat to a lunitic - esp. since Sen. Feinstein is a lot more respected than the other CA Senator, Boxer.

Ann Althouse said...

"quacking in her boots"

Great typo!

bearbee said...

oddd: "... rather than starting with a conclusion and working backwards. (That's what journalism is for.)"


quxxo: "..shtupping..."

I believe that was a speciality of the previous administration.....

Jen Bradford said...

quxxo - how is using invented verification words amusing? (I assume no one is supposed to believe those are your actual vw's.)

chuck b. said...

"But I don't see Sheehan winning either the nomination or the general election."

Well, *duh*.

Of course she won't.


Lola said...

By supporting the filibuster, Senator Clinton has wasted the time of her colleagues and constituents. It's clear they don't have the #s for that and many of their contemporaries have admitted its not the best move. Take their advice and cast your vote - believe me, its the best thing you can do at this point...