In one respect, Samuel Alito is a more reassuring nominee even than John Roberts was. Alito has a much longer track record as an appellate judge than Roberts did–and that track record suggests a deep understanding of the “limited role that our courts play in our constitutional system” (as he remarked in accepting the nomination). His opinions marry sound judicial philosophy with careful legal craftsmanship. President Bush deserves credit for having the good judgment to nominate him.
Unlike the nomination of Harriet Miers, this nomination can be expected to play out predictably. Alito will have the enthusiastic support of conservatives. The Left is already distorting his decisions, presenting his vote to uphold a spousal-notification regulation as proof of inveterate hostility to Roe v. Wade. Alito may well end up voting against Roe and restoring democratic decision-making authority over abortion. But his decision on spousal notification does not prove it, and the Left would be ill-advised to take its fight to an issue where the public is not with it.
The world has changed since 1987, when Robert Bork’s last name became a verb. The Republicans hold the Senate. We do not have to rely on the diligence and fastidiousness of the Washington Post and New York Times to clear up disinformation about the nominee. We suspect that liberals are going to discover to their chagrin that they have been right all along: You can’t turn back the clock.