The Corner

Law & the Courts

I Agree with Senator Obama

Senator Obama explains his attitude toward Supreme Court nominations in 2006:

As we all know, there’s been a lot of discussion in the country about how the Senate should approach this confirmation process. There are some who believe that the President, having won the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and an all-around nice guy. That once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question whether the judge should be confirmed.

I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record. And when I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Samuel Alito, I’m deeply troubled.

I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training and qualifications necessary to serve. He’s an intelligent man and an accomplished jurist. And there’s no indication he’s not a man of great character.

But when you look at his record – when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding American’s individual rights.

Obama went on to say that Alito should be rejected. (I disagree.)

Now, Obama did seem to believe that Alito should receive a hearing and a vote. (I err toward this position, too, as I noted yesterday, although I’d note that the Senate is under no obligation to do anything.) But once that process had started, he did not buy into the idea that the Senate has any obligation to confirm the president’s choice simply because that choice is “qualified.” It will be interesting to see if he still holds this view if/once a couple of his nominees have been rejected.

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