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Monday, October 31, 2005

Dissenting Opinion

I was going to just post this in the comments under your post, Pete, but that wouldn't do it enough justice.


There. Read his profile for yourself, from the BBC.

You guys need to do a little research before you start preaching about the "militant conservatives" and the "religious right." In case you don't follow this link (which you won't, because it contains information that does not include "religious right" and "George Bush is evil"), here are some of his important decisions:

-Police v City of Newark, 1999; the opinion he drafted ruled that Muslim police officers in Newark could keep their beards for religious reasons

-Fatin v INS, 1993; he joined the majority in backing the right of an Iranian woman to seek asylum on grounds of fear of persecution for her gender and feminist ideas

-The Pitt News v Pappert, 2004; he backed the right of student newspapers to carry alcohol adverts as a matter of free speech.

-ACLU v Schundler, 1998; he ruled that a public display of a creche and menorah did not violate prohibitions on government endorsement of religion because it also included non-religious symbols including Frosty the Snowman.

What a psycho, right-winged, militant hate-monger who hates women's and minorities' rights!
If I were a betting man, I would guess that you guys and your crazy reaction is stemming from his dissention in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He was the only dissenter in a case that struck down a Pennsylvania law that required a woman to *notify* (important--not "seek permission") their husband before performing an abortion. Now, if you take the time to read just what I wrote there, I can kind of see where the hysteria comes from. However, that is unfair. He wrote that many potential reasons for an abortion, such as "economic constraints, future plans, or the husband's previously expressed opposition...may be obviated by discussion prior to abortion."

Now, I don't care what your ideology is. If you cannot recognize that this is a rational thought process, and not some "militant" ideologue writing in this dissention, then you need to step back, take a deep breath, and calm down. You can disagree with it, but to say that it is "extreme right" is irresponsible. I know that it is unfathomable that someone could possibly think about the father's rights, but, you know, this psycho sure did!

However, he has voted in favor of abortion rights, as well. In 2000, he was among the judges that ruled that a New Jersey law banning late-term abortion is unconstitutional.

This is a quote again from the BBC article:

"Timothy Lewis, a former appellate court judge who served with Mr. Alito and differs with him ideologically, told AP news agency he thought he would make a good Supreme Court justice.

"'There is nobody that I believe would give my case a more fair and balanced treatment,' he said."

For perspective on Timothy Lewis, his biography is here. This guy has worked to abolish the death penalty, worked against racial profiling with Amnesty International, worked with plaintiffs in major employee discrimination cases, etc. Pretty, quote-unquote, "liberal" causes. For someone like this to come out and say what he said should calm you guys down a little bit. Along with his previous rulings as stated above, I think that Pete and npgage's posts were typical knee-jerk, reactionary politics.

Is all this to say that he's not conservative? No. But it is totally unfair for you guys to just throw up whatever you want to say about this guy, and then hope it sticks. If you're going to freak out about this so much, show me why.

And as far as Bush "dividing America"--wouldn't you say that America was pretty damned divided in 2000? Was that Bush's fault? No. But here's the thing that you guys are missing--Supreme Court nominations were a *huge* part of Bush's campaign, and he promised to elevate a "strict constructionalist." Well, guess what? 53% of the country voted for Bush. That's a majority, last I checked, and he is following through with his promise.

The biggest reason that I'm writing this novella is because, although I do appreciate Pete specifically leaving me out of his generalization in the original post, I get so furious when, because Bush put up someone who interprets the law more literally from the Constitution (as opposed to the "spirit" of the law), he is in the "back pocket" of the "religious right."

Just like the crazy socialists that run the far left of the liberal movement, the religious right does the same in the conservative movement. That's the way it is. The far, far left and the far, far right get way too much air time these days, and no doubt play a role in the policy direction of both parties. But there is a hell of a lot more to conservative ideology than being "pro-life." There are an awful lot of conservatives--including yours truly--that have a libertarian view of abortion, and believe that government should just stay the hell out of personal decisions such as that.

One last thing--just because someone may be for overturning Roe v. Wade, does not mean that they are anti-abortion. Supposedly, Alito believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. However, as stated above, further research turns up that he has been on the side of abortion, as well. Many constitutional law scholars, on both sides of the ideological isle, believe that Roe v. Wade is a very poorly decided case. And, coincidentally, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, it really does not matter because of other precedent-setting cases, such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And, to point out just one more time, Alito was not dissenting from abortion--he was simply on the side of established state law, a state law that seems totally rational to me. Justice O'Connor voted on the side of Planned Parenthood, because she believes that there should be no "undue burden" on women seeking abortion. But to say that someone does not believe that notifying the husband that got the woman who is seeking an abortion pregnant is an "undue burden" is some crazy, right-winged ideologue is not justifiable.

Thank you, and good night!

UPDATE: Power Line (which in my opinion is probably the leading blog in conservative thinking) put this up regarding Alito's dissent in the Planned Parenthood case. It is saying basically what I am saying above, but written by a lawyer, and written much better. You can read the entire post they had on Alito here.

If you are an abortion opponent and read Alito's dissent, you will likely be disappointed. It is technical and dispassionate; the issue on which Alito differed with his colleagues was whether the notification requirement constituted an "undue burden" on the right to abortion, under the Supreme Court's jurisprudence as it then existed. The opinion conveys no hint of Alito's own views on the topic of abortion, or even of his opinion as to how (if at all) the Constitution should bear on the subject of abortion. Rather, and somewhat ironically, his dissent is an effort to follow the twists and turns of Justice O'Connor's various opinions on the topic of "undue burden," and apply them to the record before him. The most one can fairly say, I think, is that Judge Alito's dissent in Casey does not evince any reflexive hostility to restrictions on abortion, and does reflect what most conservatives would regard as an appropriate deference to the legislature's role as arbiter of public policy. Anyone looking for the sort of fiery language that sometimes enlivens, say, Janice Rogers Brown's opinions, will be disappointed.

Mikey, I applaud your post here, this may be your most well thought out and researched post to date.
I'm still happy to support my previous statements:

1. Bush is in the pocket of the religous right.

2. This is a divisive pick.
Gage is right, but this guy won't rock the boat as much as most people think he will. That said, these nomination hearings are still going to be a battle. At least its not Harriet Miers. Hopefully, she'll find a job running a keno parlor after the President's term is up.
At least I'll know the 10 Commandments better...
Wow, again, you two totally and completely use blanket statements that have no bearing on whether or not this guy will be a good Justice. Shocking.

What about his opinions make you think that he is some crazy, Bible-beating judge? What's that? You haven't read any?

That's what I thought. Nice argument, though (although there is no question this will be divisive--although it will be divisive in Washington, not the rest of America).
One problem I have with Mr. Scalito--get it, Scalito. It's a combination of Scalia and Alito--is his ruling that employees of the State of New Jersey could not participate in the FMLA. Basically, if you were unfortunate enough to work for the State and your husband forgot to pull out, no maternity vacation for you, loose legs. I hope he gets rid of welfare and medicaid, too. Poor people suck!
See, you read a summary of that case on some website, so you came to the conclusion that he is some Nazi that is going to do all that he can to keep poor people down, right?

As I said before, read the cases and come to your own conclusions!

He decided the way he did in this case because it was his *legal* opinion that the Federal government was overstepping its bounds, and that the people of New Jersey should be able to decide themselves on matters such as this.

Now, you can disagree with him all you want on how strong the Federal government should be vs. the State government, but to say that he decided against the FMLA is so misleading it makes me angry.
Plus there is part of that opinion that is about gender discrimination, as well--that the way the law was written, he felt that it was discriminating against women. I do not have time right now go into this, but the point is, come stronger than some two-sentence blurb that you read on some website, and do some independent research.
then maybe we would like to see you come stronger than copying four opinions you saw on some web site...

Here is what I know. I have spent very little time reviewing anythig about this guy, but Pat Robertson is happy. That generally means that I am not.
Pat Robertson said it was a "grand slam homerun," if I'm not mistaken. Not exactly the endorsement progress is made of.

Secondly, Gage is right that I may not have cut and pasted some things from the ACLU website to support my opinions. I also don't have to look up a cow's ass to see a steak.

This guy is not going to be good for any progressive thought, and anyone that can't see it is lying to themselves.

Mike, there is also supposedly some pretty good live blues tomorrow at Murphy's lounge, and it's early, I believe it starts at 6 or so. You interested?
I am very interested, I'll have to check my schedule (read: I have to see if it is OK with Denise).

In response to what you guys are saying, those were the first major cases that were written about Alito in the first 24 hours after the nomination. Here are three more. Of the four cases he has presided over on abortion, THREE TIMES he decided on the pro-abortion side. Here are brief summaries:

• A 1991 challenge to a Pennsylvania law requiring married women to notify their husbands before seeking an abortion. The court struck down the restriction. Alito dissented. (This is the Planned Parenthood case that has already been discussed in the post)

• A 1995 challenge to a Pennsylvania law that required women seeking to use Medicaid funds to abort a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest to report the incident to law enforcement officials and identify the offender. Alito provided the decisive vote striking down the abortion restriction.

• A 1997 challenge to a New Jersey law that prevents parents from suing for damages on behalf of the wrongful death of a fetus. Alito ruled that the Constitution does not afford protection to the unborn.

• A 2000 challenge to New Jersey's ban on so-called partial-birth abortions. Alito struck down the law based on a recent Supreme Court decision.

Yep. A Bible-beating judge if I have ever seen one.
P.S. He personally does not believe in abortion, but has ruled in favor of abortion 3 out of 4 times--and the fourth time, as written ad nausem above, was not about whether abortion was legal, rather if a law requiring the woman seeking an abortion notifying her spouse was "undue burden" on the woman. He agreed with the majority on every other point in their decision.

So, technically, he batted 1.000 on the side of abortion the four times he has been a judge in abortion cases. Yet he is pro-life. What does that tell us?

He is a professional judge who believes in stare decisis (sp.?), and leaves his personal beliefs at home. Like any other professional would--at least when it comes to abortion.

We'll see as more of his decisions and writings come out how this stands, but something as abortion--usually a deeply-held belief for people--clearly shows he is a fair judge.
One last one, and this is an LOL--here's the headline:

"Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson Praises Alito"

It's your boy! (c) Jay-Z
Here's some independent research for your ass to backup my employee rights claim, courtesy of Tuesday's Business Week. Suck it Trebek. Suck it long and suck it hard.

"One group is breathing a big sigh of relief: Corporate America. Of the dozen or so names on Bush's rumored short list of high court candidates, Alito ranked near the top for the boardroom set. In the 800-plus opinions he has penned during his 15 years as a federal judge, Alito consistently has come down on the side of limiting corporate liability, limiting employee rights, and limiting federal regulation."
That's not really independent research though. If you wanted to do independent research on a judge you would have to read their opinions, not rely on what some periodical told you.
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