The LA Times is running a story highlighting the respect they say Judge Alito has from Liberal judges and clerks who worked for him in the past.

This raises a number of possibilities, some good and some bad. The worst-case scenario is that the Bush administration is systematically trying to make him look moderate in an attempt to push through a stealth nominee. The best-case scenario is that he is a fair-minded moderate-conservative judge who will at least display a neutral attitude towards human rights.
Here is the Liberal lovefest for Alito:

Kate Pringle, a New York lawyer who worked last year on Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign, describes herself as a left-leaning Democrat and a big fan of Alito’s.

She worked for him as a law clerk in 1994, and said she was troubled by the initial reaction to his nomination. “He was not, in my personal experience, an ideologue. He pays attention to the facts of cases and applies the law in a careful way. He is conservative in that sense; his opinions don’t demonstrate an ideological slant,” she said.

Jeff Wasserstein, a Washington lawyer who clerked for Alito in 1998, echoes her view.

“I am a Democrat who always voted Democratic, except when I vote for a Green candidate — but Judge Alito was not interested in the ideology of his clerks,” he said. “He didn’t decide cases based on ideology, and his record was not extremely conservative.”

Former federal Judge Timothy K. Lewis said that when he joined the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1992, he consulted his mentor, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. The late Higginbotham, a legendary liberal and a scholar of U.S. racial history, was the only other black judge on the Philadelphia-based court at the time.

“As he was going down the roster of colleagues, he got to Sam Alito. I expressed some concern about [him] being so conservative. He said, ‘No, no. Sam Alito is my favorite judge to sit with on this court. He is a wonderful judge and a terrific human being. Sam Alito is my kind of conservative. He is intellectually honest. He doesn’t have an agenda. He is not an ideologue,’ ” Higginbotham said, according to Lewis.

“I really was surprised to hear that, but my experience with him on the 3rd Circuit bore that out,” added Lewis, who had a liberal record during his seven years on the bench. “Alito does not have an agenda, contrary to what the Republican right is saying about him being a ‘home run.’ He is not result-oriented. He is an honest conservative judge who believes in judicial restraint and judicial deference.”

“Ideology aside, I think he is a terrific guy, a terrific choice,” said Friedman, a Yale classmate of Alito’s. “He is not Harriet Miers; he has unimpeachable credentials. He may disagree with me on many legal issues — I am a Democrat; I didn’t vote for Bush. I would not prefer any of the people Bush has appointed up until now.

“The question is, is this guy [Alito] going to be motivated by the end and find a means to get to the end, or is he going to reach an end through thoughtful analysis of all relevant factors? In my judgment, Sam will be the latter.”

In addition, the article mentions a case where Alito threw out a conviction of a man because he found that he was arrested for Driving While Black.

So, let’s look at this new information in the light of the big picture. I have huge doubts about Alito, based on the following:

–Senator Reid’s reaction;

–Senator Salazar’s hint that some Republicans might join a Democratic filibuster;

–Alito’s hostility towards Roe, including his dissent from Casey and his belief in the Constitutionality of husband notification laws;

–Alito’s upholding of a strip search of a 13-year-old girl;

–Many other people who have worked with him have nicknamed him “Scalito,” believing him to pattern his philosophy after Scalia’s.

While I am not sure Alito would vote to overturn Roe due to his belief in deference to precedent, I do think he would vote to weaken the protections afforded by Roe. Furthermore, if he is or has been a member of the Federalist Society, that would be another strike against him.

There are many possibilities at this point:

–Alito is more moderate than we thought;

–This is a systematic campaign by Bush to make him look more moderate to head off a filibuster;

–Alito is hard-core Conservative, but it is a fact of human nature that judges, lawyers, and clerks have a high degree of respect and collegality with each other and would always back each other up regardless of ideology.

At any rate, I am not convinced, because the burden of proof is on Alito’s defenders to prove that he has at least a neutral attitude towards human rights and that he would not go any farther than Judge Kennedy would on Casey.

We have one ruling in favor of human rights so far from Alito. I challenge his defenders to come up with 14 more.

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