Bench Memos

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Leahy’s Floor Statement


I’ve just read an unofficial transcript of Senator Leahy’s floor statement against Judge Alito. Leahy’s statement is contemptible. The vast majority of it is a highly partisan and distorted attack on President Bush’s actions in the war on terror. The few sentences that do address Alito’s record are packed with lies.

Leahy first falsely claims that “[w]e know that Samuel Alito sought to justify absolute immunity for President Nixon’s Attorney [General] John Mitchell from lawsuits for wiretapping Americans.” In fact, as I explained a month ago, Alito, while serving in the Solicitor General’s office, was making the case against arguing for absolute immunity. He did mention in one passing sentence that he did not question the position that the Department of Justice had taken since the Carter Administration on absolute immunity. But he was certainly not seeking to justify that long-established position.

Leahy then asserts that “we know that as a judge Samuel Alito was willing to go further than even Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Ashcroft criminal justice division, in excusing government agents for searches not authorised by judicial warrants” and “we know Judge Alito would have excused the strip search of a ten-year-old girl even though the search warrant did not authorize that.” This is a gross distortion of Alito’s dissent in Doe v. Groody, in which Alito determined that the warrant should be read to incorporate the attached affidavit and thus did authorize the search (and that the police officers in any event acted reasonably and were therefore entitled not to be personally liable for the search).

That’s it (though Leahy says he will “have a great deal more to say”). A contemptible performance by Leahy.


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