Bad Santa: If there's anything more painful than Alito running against God, it's watching him run for Santa. Since Halloween, he has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill, bringing each senator a dash of sugar and spin for Christmas. Last week, he told Sen. Arlen Specter that back in 1985, when he outlined a strategy to overturn Roe, he was just expressing a "personal opinion"—not much of a distinction, considering that Alito said in his infamous job application that same year how proud he was to "advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly."
Meanwhile, Alito has been telling senators how much he resembles his late father. He apparently tries to explain away his early objections to "one man, one vote" as a concerned son's resentment toward the heartache the court heaped on his father: "In his bedroom at night as a boy, Judge Alito told senators, he could hear his father clicking away at a manual calculator as he struggled to redraw the state's legislative districts with equal populations." In Alito's eyes, the Warren Court was Scrooge, and his father was Bob Cratchit.
Even after all that hard work, a federal court in 1972 struck down New Jersey's plan as "patently unconstitutional." Like Batman and Spiderman, the young Alito must have sworn to himself that he would spend the rest of his days working to avenge his father's loss.
One Pant, One Vote: Presumably, Alito leaves out inconvenient details about his father's personal opinions, such as the old man's refusal in the 1970s to allow women in his office to wear pants. You can see why Sam Jr. grew up hating the Warren Court: Once you let everyone vote, it's only a matter of time before women start wearing pantsuits to work and we're no longer allowed to give them aprons for Christmas.
In this respect, the younger Alito will bring balance to the Roberts Court, since in the '70s the chief justice once went so far as to wear a dress himself to high school.
Last week, Alito tried to distance himself from the Concerned Alumni for Princeton, the granddaddy of the "aprons, not Ivies" movement. He told the Judiciary committee, "I have no recollection of being a member, or attending meetings." Alito has something in common with George W. Bush after all: Their only comment on the '70s is "I have no recollection."
A woman who later worked with Alito told the Daily Princetonian, "I once joked to him that he must be very disappointed that women were admitted to Princeton, and he just didn't have a response." But the Prince found another explanation for Alito's involvement in CAP—he just wanted to tap the good old-boy network. One Alito contemporary suggested to the Prince that students who joined CAP "wanted to ingratiate themselves so that they had good summer jobs." Alito's former roommate says, "He wouldn't have put that in his job application if he didn't have a connection."
In hindsight, it might seem selfish to have spent the '70s and '80s advancing one extremist personal view after another for the sake of personal career advancement. But what holiday hero hasn't been willing to do whatever it takes to save Christmas? Frosty didn't want "two bits of coal for eyes"—he was personally opposed to coal, because of its role in global warming. But he let himself melt to death so children could learn the magic of Christmas.
It's too early to tell whether Sam Alito wants to be God, or Santa, or just go down in history like Rudolf. But so far, Alito is like a kid before Christmas: Whatever he wants, he'll say anything to get it. ... 2:59 P.M. (link)
Friday, Dec. 2, 2005
One Beer, One Vote: After another week of disheartening Republican congressional scandals in our nation's capital, the Washington Post recounts a charming story of extortion, fraud, and vote-buying in rural West Virginia. The tale drips with nostalgia for the good old days when bribes came cheap and voters, not officeholders, were the ones taking money.