I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Being mean to Alito

Supporters of Sam Alito's nomination are solemnly pointing to the tears of Alito's wife as a proxy for expressing their profound distaste over the inappropriate and discourteous questioning of her husband, Sam, by the bullying Democrats on the Committee.

It is, of course, totally inappropriate, and just downright rude, to ask someone who wants to sit in the swing seat on the U.S. Supreme Court for the next 30 years (at least) about his touted memebership in a group which has views so extreme that the nominee himself expressed revulsion over them. And just because many of the views expressed by the group in question go to the heart of what the Supreme Court does is hardly a reason why he should be asked about his membership in that group.

And if the Democrats are going to be really rude and insist on asking about it, they should ask only once and accept whatever "answer" they are given. Asking follow-up questions about obvious holes or inconsistences in the answer -- let alone being so crass as to want to see documents on this group and Alito's membership in it -- is really beyond the pale of social decency.

It goes without saying that proper decorum and politeness should have prevented the Democrats from mentioning such unpleasantries. Where are their manners? Their crassness made Mrs. Alito cry. And that, of course, shows that Sam Alito would make an exceptional Supreme Court Justice and that it's time to stop with this nonsense and get on with his confirmation by acclamation so that we don't further upset his wife with impolite questions.

Every good dinner party host -- at least the ones who had a proper upbringing -- knows that you don't talk about unpleasant topics like race or politics with your guests. Because if you do, one of the guests is bound to get offended and the whole party will be ruined. Apparently, Mrs. Alito was so upset that she didn't even want dessert. Are the Democrats really going to sink so low as to subject her to further emotional turmoil by asking more questions of her husband?

UPDATE: In his inimitible style, The Heretik explores some additional oddities raised by this sorry, contrived drama.

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