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McCain and Alito: “conservatism on his sleeve”...not.



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Senator John McCain, as recently reported and discussed here and on The Corner, has said privately that he would not appoint jurists like Justice Samuel Alito, because he ”wears his conservatism on his sleeve.”

To refresh recollections:  many of Justice Alito’s former law clerks, fellow Article III judges, and others — a good number of whom were liberal Democrats — testified during his Senate confirmation to the exact opposite proposition:  that Justice Alito did not wear any political ideology or convictions “on his sleeve.”   Just a sampling of that testimony:   *  Katherine L. Pringle (former law clerk, “committed and active Democrat”):  “I learned in my year with Judge Alito that his approach to judging is not about personal ideology or ambition, but about hard work and devotion to law and justice. . . . Judge Alito did not, in my experience, ever treat a case as a platform for a personal agenda or ambition. Rather, his decisions are limited to the issue at hand. They demonstrate an effort to interpret honestly, and faithfully apply, the law to the parties that seek justice before him . . . .”   *  Jack White (former law clerk, member of the NAACP and the ACLU):  “Working for Judge Alito, I saw in him an abiding loyalty to a fair judicial process as opposed to an enslaved inclination toward a political or personal ideology. . . . What I found most intriguing and particularly exceptional about Judge Alito’s judicial decision-making process was the conspicuous absence of personal predilections. . . . After a year of working closely with the judge on cases concerning a wide variety of legal issues, I left New Jersey not knowing Judge Alito’s personal beliefs on any of them. The reason I did not know Judge Alito’s personal beliefs was that the jurist’s ideology was never an issue in any case he considered while I was in his chambers. In fact, it is never an issue in any case. My fellow former co-clerks have agreed and communicated this notion in a letter we provided to this committee.”

*  Judge Edward Becker (Third Circuit Court of Appeals):   ”The Sam Alito that I have sat with for fifteen years is not an ideologue. He is not a movement person. He is a real judge, deciding each case on the facts and the law, not on his personal views whatever they may be. . . . Sam is said to have certain ideological views, expressed in some twenty-year-old memos. Whatever these views may have been, his judging does not reflect them. . . . Sam is faithful to his judicial oath.”   The Honorable Anthony Scirica (Chief Judge, Third Circuit Court of Appeals):  “Judge Alito approaches each case with an open mind, and determines the proper application of the relevant law to the facts. He has a deep respect for precedent. His reasoning is scrupulous and meticulous. He does not reach out to decide issues not presented in the case. His personal views, whatever they might be, do not jeopardize the independence of his legal reasoning or his capacity to approach each issue with an open mind.”   *  Mr. Stephen L. Tober (Chairman, American Bar Association):  “The Standing Committee has unanimously concluded that Judge Alito is “Well Qualified” to serve as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. His integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament are indeed found to be of the highest standing.

Judge Alito is an individual who, we believe, sees majesty in the law, respects it, and remains a dedicated student of it to this day.”

*  Charles Fried (Former United States Solicitor General, who worked with Justice Alito in that office from the latter part of 1984 until he left the office at the end of 1985):  “Alito was highly respected. Nor do I recall anyone bothering to mention that he had any particular political coloration. In preparation for this testimony I have checked my recollection with several alumni of the office from that time and they confirm what I report here.”  


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