Bench Memos

Day One

In a few minutes, the Alito hearing will begin with a whimper—a stultifying three hours of opening statements by Committee members (10 minutes for each of the 18 senators). Professions of openmindedness aside, it is a long shot that any Democrat on the Committee will vote for Alito’s nomination. Their opening statements will signal how vitriolic they intend to be as well as the lines of attack each will explore in questioning Alito.

At 3:45 or so, Alito will be introduced by two politicians from his home state of New Jersey, Senator Frank Lautenberg and former governor Christine Todd Whitman. Lautenberg, a liberal Democrat, voted against Roberts and will almost surely vote against Alito, so his remarks will not extend beyond the necessary courtesies. Whitman, a liberal Republican and President Bush’s former EPA head, should help neutralize the left-wing environmentalist rhetoric against Alito.

Finally, around 4:00, Judge Alito will be sworn in and will offer his opening statement. After more than two months of etiquette-demanded silence—or, worse, Democratic senators’ accounts of what Alito supposedly told them—this will be Alito’s first real opportunity since the announcement of his nomination to present himself to the American people.

Most Popular


The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More