Judiciary

Even Alito’s Liberal Clerks Love Him

Two of Alito’s first three law clerks while he sat on the Third Circuit spoke yesterday about their support for the Judge as a jurist and a man.

After working very closely with Alito from 1990 to ’91 (during which time the famous Casey decision was made), Susan Sullivan and Jim Goniea (who happen to be husband and wife) said although they consider themselves liberal-progressives, they have every confidence in Judge Alito’s abilities to be the next justice on the Supreme Court.

Their thoughts are broken down categorically as they discussed everything from Kennedy’s distasteful questions to the possibility that Roe v. Wade might be reversed.

On Alito’s ability to judge carefully:

Sullivan: I’m not afraid to see him on the Supreme Court. I’m confident that he’s not intent on advancing any political agenda. I saw that in the way he approached all his cases – including Casey – which was to approach those cases thoughtfully and carefully and absolutely with an open mind. I think that more and more people are beginning to look at the broad range of his decisions. I think that’s come out in these hearings.

I did not like the result [of Casey] but I really respect the way he approached that case.

On accusations that the Judge is sexist, racist:

Sullivan: The assertion that the Judge would in any way discriminate against women or minorities to me is personally offensive. I actually think it denigrates the entire process that we have to resort to this…not only as a judge but as a person and anyone that who knows him would agree that that’s offensive.

On the quality of the hearings:

Goneia: I feel that it’s no longer a search for the truth — it’s a search for how to discredit a man– a man who’s integrity is virtually unassailable– and they will do anything that they can to make Judge Alito look bad, even if there’s no basis for doing that.

I felt that things that were being said about him that were untrue needed to be countered – and I think that the people have a responsibility to know the truth about who he is – as a person and as a judge.

On Kennedy’s offensive approach:

Goneia: The suggestion that Judge Alito would in any way be involved actively with an organization that associated itself with the type of views that Sen. Kennedy tried to put right next to Judge Alito is so offensive — for anybody that knows him — that it’s really hard to sit and watch that take place because it’s so untrue. It’s simply such a terrible attempt to misstate the character of this man before millions of people – that’s very difficult to watch.

On senators’ stunts to make news:

Sullivan: Some of the senators are kind of making themselves the news because there isn’t anything else to report on here. The judge is answering the questions. He’s answering them candidly. He’s not being evasive. Of course there will be allegations that he’s not but there’s no substance to that.

This is a very important process and it shouldn’t be about spin and it shouldn’t be about being elected.

On the possibility that Alito will overturn Roe v. Wade:

Goneia: This is a judge who doesn’t bring a political ideology to his decision. He tries to apply the law. He tries to apply it accurately. He tries to do what the law requires. Regardless of the outcome that he reaches, I have confidence that he’s reached that outcome because he’s trying to apply the law to the best of his ability.

One of the things he’s saying is the process that he’ll go through if he’s asked to consider that question (reversing Roe v. Wade). He’s brought up the issue of stare decisis. He has always been a judge who has placed great weight upon other judges and justices that have come before him. If he ever got to the point where he was participating in a panel that was revisiting Roe those would be some things that he would consider…if he resulted in voting against Roe v. Wade I would have confidence that he did so because that was what the law required him to do.


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