Bench Memos

Leahy Should Be Happy

I’m here in the Alito confirmation hearing room — where, by the way, Judge Alito introduced his wonderful family moments ago. Senator Leahy is making an opening statement that began: “The challenge for Judge Alito is to demonstrate he’ll protect the rights and liberties of all Americans against overreaching government power.” If Sen. Leahy really is interested in this, and an “independent federal judiciary,” about which he is now speaking, then he can’t find a better nominee than Judge Alito. He has a 15 year record of restraining himself as a circuit judge from the temptation to make policy from the bench that reflects his, or anyone else’s, views. He has ruled, based on the written Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, that statutes cannot stand when congress oversteps its constitutional authority. Most important for Leahy, under Judge Alito’s decisionmaking, Americans will retain the power to govern themselves rather than to be governed by unelected judges. If Sen. Leahy honestly reflects on this, he should be very happy with Judge Alito.

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Regular Order

Jussie Smollett’s story has always sounded a little . . . extraordinary. Smollett, who appears on the television series Empire, says he was attacked on the streets of Chicago at 2 a.m. by two men who shouted racial and homophobic abuses at him, beat him, doused him with bleach, and fastened a noose around ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Let’s Chill about Hate Crimes

‘Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the television show ‘Empire,’ was attacked in Chicago by 2 assailants who yelled racial and homophobic slurs,” tweeted the New York Times on January 29. Mark the tone of absolute certainty about an unconfirmed claim. Many other news outlets took the same tack. ... Read More