This morning’s Washington Post editorial gives me pause. It is clear about the fact that the editor would dearly love to see a Sandra Day O’Connor clone rather than anyone you could remotely refer to as conservative. It is equally clear, however, that that wish isn’t sufficient to call for denying Alito confirmation by the Senate.
|::::::::||Supreme Court confirmations have never been free of politics, but neither has their history generally been one of party-line votes or of ideology as the determinative factor. To go down that road is to believe that there exists a Democratic law and a Republican law — which is repugnant to the ideal of the rule of law. However one reasonably defines the “mainstream” of contemporary jurisprudence, Judge Alito’s work lies within it. While we harbor some anxiety about the direction he may push the court, we would be more alarmed at the long-term implications of denying him a seat. No president should be denied the prerogative of putting a person as qualified as Judge Alito on the Supreme Court.||::::::::|
I am surprised at hearing this from this town’s reliably left-leaning publication. The editorial is correct, of course, which is the attitude the Republican-led Senate held when Bill Clinton’s nominees appeared before them. You can see the difference in attitude when you look at the list of sitting justices, who nominated them, and the votes by which they were confirmed. Since the Robert Bork nomination, no conservative has been confirmed with more than 78 votes. No liberal has been confirmed with less than 87. (Only 1, in fact, has had less than 90.) It is clear that since Bork, Democrats as a group have been consistently voting against anyone who can be identified as having conservative views where Republicans are clearly voting based on the judicial qualifications of the nominee.
The Post recognizes this and hits the nail on the head. I approve and I recommend reading it in full.