Bench Memos

No Cause for Delay

Judge Alito’s 15-year record on the bench can be reviewed thoroughly on a very fast timetable. When President Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg in mid-June 1993, she had been on the D.C. Circuit for 13 years. Her hearing occurred a month later (on July 20) and she was confirmed promptly after that (on August 3). As a staffer to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I personally reviewed all of Ginsburg’s opinions as well as all of her voluminous writings. There is no excuse for the Senate Judiciary Committee not to provide equally prompt review now.

There are no other considerations that would lead to a different analysis. For those mistakenly enamored of “balance” concerns, it must be pointed out that Ginsburg was altering the previous balance of the Court by replacing Justice Byron White, an opponent of much of the Court’s liberal activism.

Nor are there executive-branch documents that will be subject to any legitimate claim for review. Those who unsuccessfully argued that Roberts’s records from the Solicitor General’s office relied heavily on the fact that he was the political deputy, rather than an assistant to the Solicitor General. Alito was an assistant to the Solicitor General. As for Alito’s Office of Legal Counsel work, all opinions that previous administrations, including the Clinton administration, determined could properly be made public have already been made public. Most importantly, Judge Alito has a long (and very impressive) record as a judge that should enable anyone to determine his eminent suitability for the Supreme Court.

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