Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alito Hearing Day 3: The Spousal Consent Question

My Dad had me almost convinced to support Joe Biden in his upcoming presidential bid... but no more.

Cause he just BLEW it in the Alito confirmation hearings, on the most critical issue.


Finally, Biden asked THE question... how could Alito have ruled that spousal consent is not an "undue burden" on women? Does he really believe that no matter how substantially affected a number of women are by an abortion restriction, it's still constitutional if it's just "some women"?


And Alito said YES! That he believed then AND STILL BELIEVES NOW that an abortion restriction is ok if it significantly harms women, as long as it's just "some women."


And Biden moved on to more questions. What is it with all these dropped balls?? Why did he not then followup by reminding Alito that the constitution is there to protect INDIVIDUAL rights, not just majority rights, and why did he not then ask Alito about why a life exception is necessary? It's the same principle: if only SOME women are going to die as a result of an abortion restriction, under Alito's interpretation of "undue burden," that would be just fine. But it's NOT just fine, and the vast majority of people in this country, and EVERY court majority understands that.


Why the lack of follow-up? Arrrgh. And now I *am* kicking myself for not working in the pro-choice movement any more cause I'd be ALL OVER this one. But they didn't listen to me then, and they probably wouldn't today either.


So anyway. What this means is we can say GOODBYE to health and life exceptions to abortion laws. Who cares if just SOME women die?


Unbelievable.


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I'm watching the re-broadcast of the hearings on cspan.org and I have to stay awake at least until they rebroadcast the Graham questioning, still about an hour away... cause that's the point at which, apparantly, Alito's wife broke down crying and ran out of the room.


(why? Because Graham was expressing condolences to Alito that he was being found "guilty by association" by Democrats who were questioning him about his membership in a group that discriminated quite blatantly against women, racial minorities, and gays. And not just his membership, but trumpetting his membership in a job application with the Reagan administration. And now claiming no memory of belonging to the group, or the group's activities or discriminatory positions).


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I've gotten no work done the past two days, and some of it's because of personal life distractions, but mostly it's because I've been glued to the Alito hearings, not wanting to let a day pass without either watching the hearings or reading the transcripts all the way through.

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Wow. I thought *I* got pissed today. Watching Specter and Kennedy going at it was one of the most beautiful political battles I've ever seen on C-SPAN. Nice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alito: Beware The Elements In The Atmosphere!

My "WTF????" moment came, while reading the transcript of today's Alito hearings, when I hit this part of the transcript:

KOHL: Judge Alito, you stated in that same job application that one element of the conservative philosophy that you believed, quote, "very strongly," was the, quote, "legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values," unquote.


KOHL: What traditional values were you referring to? And who decides what is a, quote, "traditional value"?


ALITO: Well, again, I'm trying to remember what I thought about that 20 years ago, and I'm trying to reconstruct it.


I think a traditional value that I probably had in mind was the ability to live in peace and safety in your neighborhood. And that was a big issue during the time of the Warren court. And it was still a big issue in 1985 when I wrote that statement, because that was a time of very high crime rates. I think that's a traditional value.


I think the ability of people to raise a family and raise their children in accordance with their own beliefs is a traditional value.


I think the ability to raise children in a way that they're not only subjected to -- they're spared physical threats, but also psychological threats that can come from elements in the atmosphere, is a traditional value.

I think that the ability to practice your own conscience is a traditional value.


That's the best I can reconstruct it now, thinking back to 1985.


KOHL: Very good.

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Very good? What do you mean very good??? Why didn't you ask him what the hell he meant by "psychological threats that can come from elements in the atmosphere"???


You mean, like, being near gay people can give you cooties? What the HELL does it mean?

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On a lighter note, there was Alito's introduction of the "superduper precedent" lingo, followed by this dialogue:

SPECTER: Judge Alito, during the confirmation hearing of Chief Justice Roberts, I displayed a chart. I don't ordinarily like charts but this one I think has a lot of weight because it lists all 38 cases which have been decided since Roe where the Supreme Court of the United States had the opportunity to -- Senator Hatch is in the picture now.

(LAUGHTER)


It's a good photo op for Senator Hatch. Senator Leahy's complaining...


(LAUGHTER)


LEAHY: We can just balance it on Orrin's head.


(LAUGHTER)


SPECTER: Well, I think the point of it is that there have been so many cases, so many cases: 15 after your statement in 1985 that I'm about to come to, and eight after Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which is why it has a special significance.


SPECTER: And I'm not going to press the point about super- precedent. I'm glad I didn't have to mention super-duper; that you did.


(LAUGHTER)


Thank you very much.

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On a more serious note, Schumer really laid into Alito, asking him over and over again not to dodge the abortion question, but Alito dodged and dodged and dodged and it was a great showdown.


We're so fucked.

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