Perhaps frustrated by Judge Sam Alito’s strong resume, well-qualified ABA rating, and outstanding performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats–with help from the liberal anti-Alito coalition–have taken off the gloves in an 11th-hour effort to thwart Alito’s nomination.
The principal line of attack concerns Judge Alito’s one-time membership in an organization of fellow Princeton College alumni called Concerned Alumni of Princeton, or CAP. Citing various controversial comments by other CAP members, anti-Alito senators appear to be assigning any and all of these views and statements, from the stupid to the repugnant, to Judge Alito himself.
Unmentioned by these critics is that Judge Alito joined CAP because on one issue–Princeton’s decision to bar ROTC from campus–he agreed with CAP’s position. Also unmentioned is the lack of any apparent connection between Judge Alito and any of these former CAP members making objectionable statements, or the statements themselves.
While it is easy to demonstrate the lack of connection between Judge Alito and the former CAP members who have espoused objectionable views, the same cannot be said about the relationship between the various liberal interest groups who have joined forces to defeat the judge’s nomination, or the coalition they have formed and those senators who are fighting the nomination.
Circle of Anti-Alito Life
This coalition views Judge Alito as a threat precisely because he is not one of the activist judges that member organizations have long looked to judicially implement policies whose lack of popular support ensures that they will never be enacted by elected legislative bodies. Ironically, the coalition’s number one assertion is that Judge Alito is “out of the mainstream.” But one need only examine the policies CFIJ members support to know that it is the coalition itself which stands far to the left of the American mainstream.
Beginning with criminal-justice issues, coalition groups take positions considerably to the left of most Americans. Decade after decade, polls show that the American people consistently support the death penalty, but CFIJ members are amongst those leading the charge to abolish death row. Members are also fighting to secure voting privileges for convicted felons, while opposing efforts to facilitate the deportation of aliens convicted of crimes.
Coalition members’ views on issues relating to the war on terror are likewise widely divergent from those of most Americans. For example, the Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a coalition leader, has been critical of the nation’s war on terror and has allied itself with Michael Moore. And MoveOn, which opposed the war in Afghanistan and compared President Bush to Hitler and the Nazis, believes that America should not hold countries “unduly accountable” for terrorists operating within their borders.
On religion, the views of the coalition can be summarized as hostile to public expression of religious belief. Among the causes supported by CFIJ members are the removal of public Christmas and Chanukah displays and deletion of the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Coalition members have even tried to rid schools of Christmas carols and Easter vacation. And the ACLU drove the Boy Scouts from San Diego’s most popular park on the theory that use of a public park by the tradition-oriented Scouts represents an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
When the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment rights meant they could not be forced to admit gay Scoutmasters, a wide array of coalition groups were on the opposing side. Similarly, CFIJ member Lambda Legal’s guide to judicial nominees instructs that a “good nominee” is one whom will force religious organizations to hire homosexuals, even when it violates “their personal religious beliefs.”
While the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment rights find little support in the coalition, freedom of expression for pornographers and flag burners is a different story. Despite Americans’ concerns about children’s exposure to Internet pornography, member organizations have gone to court to strike down the Children’s Internet Protection Act, the Child Online Protection Act, and the Communications Decency Act. Indeed, the ACLU even believes that child pornography is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be prohibited.
Predictably, coalition groups are also at the forefront of the battle for unrestricted abortion rights, including taxpayer-funded abortions. While a strong majority of Americans support a ban on partial-birth abortion, as well as requirements for spousal and parental notification, coalition members have fought all of these provisions in the courts.
However, the coalition’s support for choice disappears where K-12 education is concerned. CFIJ organizations have been in the vanguard of the campaign to kill school-voucher programs. In fact, both PFAW and Americans United for Separation of Church and State even opposed temporary vouchers for the school-age victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Coalition members are also at the forefront of the effort to see traditional marriage redefined by the courts. Moving even further from the mainstream, the ACLU wants to abolish laws prohibiting polygamy, and the Human Rights Campaign opposes the military’s ban on transsexual soldiers. Finally, on campus, the National Gay and Lesbian Task free calls for the provision of “single stall gender-neutral restroom facilities.”
By now it should be clear that anti-Alito coalition members have an affinity for causes decidedly to the left of the American mainstream.
Indeed, few of the causes advocated by coalition members could be successfully pursued through the legislative process or via ballot initiatives because they are so far out of the mainstream. As a result, their implementation totally depends on the support of an activist judiciary.
These are the reasons you’re seeing the anti-Alito coalition devote their time and resources to distorting Judge Alitos’s record and attack his character.
For members of the U.S. Senate the choice is clear. Either they share the very liberal views of Judge Alito’s opponents and/or wish to see their own legislative authority usurped by the judicial branch, in which case they should oppose Judge Alito. Or, they hold mainstream policy beliefs and share the Founders’ view that the power to legislate should reside in the House and Senate, in which case they must confirm him.
–The Honorable Spencer Abraham was secretary of Energy from 2001-2005 and U.S. Senator from Michigan from 1995-2001, where he served on the Judiciary Committee. He is chairman of the Committee for Justice.