Abortion, Abuse, Accusations and Alito

Months from now, when political scientists definitively analyze the current Supreme Court confirmation hearings, they will concur that the Alito hearing was a watershed moment in America’s political climate. Before the confirmation hearings, leftist groups engaged in extremist rhetoric — bragging that they would "destroy" Samuel Alito.

During the hearings, the liberal senators seemed stuck on character assassination. They assaulted Alito with vitriol; such abuse of democratic processes does not belong in a "civil" society. For the media outside the hearing room, though, they reluctantly admitted that Alito is a person of integrity and a fine judge. Even so, when pressed about whether they would vote to confirm him, they responded that they would not.

Since when does a candidate have to subscribe to a specific ideology before he can receive an up or down vote in the Senate? Why should an accomplished nominee who has received praise from every corner of the legal community be subjected to accusations solely to undermine his reputation and impugn his character? Why should a single issue, abortion, become the focal point of political dispute? Why should a nominee be harassed by those determined to force him to reveal how he would vote on a particular issue (Roe v. Wade) when to do so would violate professional ethics — not to mention that the America people do not want a judge who would predict his rulings.

The first week of the Alito hearings had three fundamental faults:

Abuse: Americans are tired of politicians who play political games that undermine essential democratic processes. Samuel Alito was repeated attacked for "not answering questions," but even Sen. Joseph Biden remarked that he "appreciated [Judge Alito] being responsive." Those who tabulate how many questions were answered tell us that Alito answered around 90 percent of the questions, compared to under 80 percent for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Accusations: The liberal senators repeatedly accused Alito of being "insensitive" to women, but they were grasping at straws with the specific cases they cited (Casey — notifying spouses about abortion — and Chittister — maternity leave). The distortions and errors in the numerous other accusations (bigotry, racism, being unfair on the environment, blue collar workers, death penalty, etc.) filled pages. In fact, all of the statements from the seven liberal senators contained at least one inaccuracy.

Abortion: The truth is that liberals were unable to prove that Alito would reverse Roe v. Wade. Their inability to make their case left them frustrated and depressed; many of the televised pictures conveyed their desperation. Their focus on abortion shows an astounding lack of depth on the issues as well as both a stubborn and single-minded adherence to the feminist left’s agenda.

Sadly, in an NBC interview, Sen. Biden called the confirmation process "kind of broken," but he went on to point out, inaccurately, what he considered the "real" problem: "The American people [don’t] agree with [Judge Alito’s] views."

Since the liberal smear campaign was led chiefly by Democrats, I believe the fallout is likely to hurt that party’s showing at the polls the most. By trying to smear a nominee with a distinguished 15-year record on the bench, they came across as partisan camera-hogs running for re-election instead of serious public servants promoting the nation’s good. Sen. Chuck Schumer filled his time slot with nearly 3,500 words, leaving Alito time for barely 1,000 words. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s record was similar, but Sen. Biden took the prize for bloviating: He spoke nearly 4,000 words to Alito’s 1,000.

The liberals ended up looking like mean-spirited bullies. Their malicious attacks on a decent man not only dishonored them; their unreasonable accusations also dishonored Democracy; nevertheless, in the process, not a single accusation "stuck," and the nominee’s reputation as an intelligent jurist of integrity and courage remains intact.