The Right Coast

January 14, 2006
Sam's Club
By Maimon Schwarzschild

NPR's John Elving predicts -- rightly, I think:
The committee will vote 10-8 along party lines to recommend Alito's confirmation, just as it likely would have if the vote had been taken before the hearings began.

The full Senate will then follow suit, with no filibuster, although Alito will not get close to the 78 votes Chief Justice John Roberts' got in winning confirmation last year. Something around 60 seems more likely.
Elving veers back and forth between suggesting that this is because Alito successfully created a television image of himself as judicious (as Elving's NPR audience will want to hear), and conceding that Alito is, well, judicious:
Through three grueling days of televised questioning, he displayed exactly the kind of serious and focused demeanor the average American wants in a judge.

Those who tuned in also witnessed the workings of a first-rate legal mind: analytical, cautious and attentive to detail. If it seemed also wonkish, humorless and literal to a fault, well, these are flaws one expects to forgive in a jurist.
Meantime, writes Jon Ham:
We all remember how the excesses of Democrats at the Paul Wellstone funeral in 2002 turned the tide in the upcoming congressional elections. The performance of Democrats at the hearings for Samuel Alito, I think, will be a similar turning point, perhaps with even longer lasting effects.

Democrats and the media have tried since the Bork hearings to convince us that scurrilous character assassination was what the Founders meant by "advise and consent." Mrs. Alito's teary escape revealed to flyover America yesterday that something is desperately wrong in Washington. They know indecency and crassness when they see it. Not only will Alito be confirmed, but the reprehensible tactics used against him will have electoral consequences.
And Hugh Hewitt suggests that Alito spooks his opponents not only because of how he is liable to vote, but because he is apt to put forth moral arguments that will resonate with the public:
The real fear on the left is not so much the possibility that a bloc is forming that will vote the wrong way, but that this bloc will raise arguments that are persuasive far beyond the narrow decisions the justices are called upon to render. In recent years, it has been very rare for a majority or even a plurality of SCOTUS to speak in the language of traditional morality.... If a bloc of four justices does emerge that does begin to speak in its opinions in the language of constitutional majoritariansism and traditional, theist-morality, that will represent the launch of an entirely new class of legal battleship which, with the assistance of new media, will have a range for its 16 inch guns never before seen when it comes to arguing about the course of Constitutional Law. Further, that range will extend far beyond the legal debates before the courts. Persuasive arguments are very potent things.
Actually, isn't Justice Alito -- if so he becomes -- apt to be dryer than Hewitt hopes?