Bench Memos

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Anti-Alito Pollution


Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article stating that the self-described environmentalist groups that “declined to join” other left-wing groups in opposing the Roberts nomination are now “mobilizing against” Alito’s nomination. The twelfth paragraph of the article offers a finer distinction: these groups, it says, “raised concerns” about Roberts but “didn’t lobby for his defeat.”

The fuller picture is rather different. First, Alliance for Justice, which did lobby for Roberts’s defeat, describes itself as “a national association of environmental, civil rights, mental health, women’s, children’s and consumer advocacy organizations” and lists numerous environmental organizations among its members.

Second, on September 9, the head of the Sierra Club (featured prominently in the Wall Street Journal article) sent a letter to all the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee coalition. That letter asserts that, having “conducted a thorough review” of Roberts’s record, the Sierra Club has “very serious concerns about whether he should be confirmed.” It proceeds to allege, among other things, that Roberts possessed a “philosophy that would have effectively eliminated much of the environmental protection afforded by federal courts over the past 30 years” and “has displayed unrelenting hostility to the idea that federal law and federal courts have a role in combating racial discrimination.” This letter would sure seem to me to amount to “lobby[ing] for his defeat.”

Third, a week earlier, a group of seven environmental organizations had sent members of the Senate Judiciary Committee a similar letter expressing “serious concern” about his nomination.

In short, there is nothing new in the Wall Street Journal article. The same groups that opposed Roberts are now opposing Alito and, in order to enhance whatever remaining credibility they have, are now underplaying their fight against Roberts.


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