Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Alito hearings: "It is as the voice of Angels"

I saw Alito's opening remarks at his confirmation hearing. They were brilliant and insightful.
It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn’t help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.
Indeed! He joined the most interesting clubs in college because he was so oppressed there.

His native community clearly had the good sense and he decency not to allow women or black people into it. Or partisans and hippies! He is a second or possibly third generation immigrant misogynist law-monk who does not like people who disagree with the government. How pleasing!

He goes on to make a fascinating comment about what happened when he became a judge:
When I became a judge, I stopped being a practicing attorney. And that was a big change in role.
What a penetrating insight! This is evidence of a keen mind at work. Few people would ever realize that attorneys and judges play different roles. For instance, judges bang hammers (called "gavels") on things in order to make a loud noise. Attorneys do not. The man is a born storyteller! And this "judges and attorneys are different" line is an important theory about the law which will underlie all his testimony. I also anticipate him arguing that baseball is different from sandwiches. Take that, partisans!
Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds based on the next brief that they read, or the next argument that’s made by an attorney who’s appearing before them, or a comment that is made by a colleague during the conference on the case when the judges privately discuss the case.
Good judges, you see, do not have any opinions on anything, nor do they have philosophies or indeed read books or have political affiliations or beliefs. They are like angels of nonpartisanship. Their personal backgrounds and anything they ever said or thought or wrote in the past is irrelevant. Nobody ever asked Gabriel what he thought about the law during his Archangel confirmation hearings. And that is appropriate.

Neither would it be fair of him to say how he would have decided any particular case, about, say, abortion. That might make him say something that everybody knows, but that he cannot admit because that would be actually saying what everyone knows. Such as that he does not like abortion. We must all have the maturity not to ever talk about the question everyone in the country knows is the real issue.

But this is where Alito truly shines:
The judge’s only obligation -- and it’s a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires.
This is not a banal truism at all! All this is quite sound and you would have to be lacking sense to disagree.

Partisans may argue here that if a judge's only purpose is to do what they are told by the law, they could just as easily be replaced by giant law compuers. But such partisans do not understand the simple truth that machines can never do what judges can do. Until someone invents an "angel machine," anyway.

28 Comments:

Blogger Nim said...

Well said as usual, Prof. Altmouse. By the way, I hesitate to mention such an unhelpful site, but did you know that some partisan has started a blog making fun of you?! It's incredible, I know, and they're calling it "Althouse," which is a juvenile pun designed to sound like "outhouse."

It's disgusting and partisan and you shouldn't waste your beautiful mind on it. The only reason I mention it is because even though the author is clearly a juvenile parody of Your Divaness, her commenters are actually very enlightened, non-partisan people! It's strange!

One of them in particular I thought had a very helpful, non-partisan comment on the Alito hearings:

"Troy said...
My personal favorite is hearing uncle Ted talk about "the little guy". I love to hear a fat drunk trust fund raised, no-tipping, manslaughtering idiot preach. In my darker moments (for which I do repent) I think there must be an extra hot place in Hell for Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan for taking the wrong Kennedys.

Then I put such thoughts out of my head because I'm not Michael Moore, Harry Belafonte, or Ted kennedy wishing ill upon my opponents.

1:00 PM, January 10, 2006
"

Perhaps we should tell "Troy" that he is being taken in by a fraud, and should start reading the real, non-parody Altmouse!

11:17 AM  
Blogger ntodd said...

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6:22 PM  
Anonymous gordo said...

"Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds based on the next brief that they read..."

OMG. At first, I thought that this paragraph was written by Altmouse. Seriously.

I guess that's just a testament to Altmouse's angelic non-partisanship.

I aspire to be that non-partisan one day: "You know, until you made that comment, I was convinced that the Constitution didn't protect the right to human sacrifice..."

10:39 PM  
Blogger Aspasia M. said...

His answer to why he joined CAP was just so annoying.

And he said that he didn't know that CAP was having "issues" with the non-white male invasion of Princeton.

blah.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Fred Woodston said...

Is Angels in America about Alito? If not, it should be!

3:49 AM  
Blogger NYMary said...

he said that he didn't know that CAP was having "issues" with the non-white male invasion of Princeton.

And that he'd never really thought about Bush v. Gore.

I know you're all angelic and nonpartisan and stuff, Ms. A, but over at Eschaton, Alito would get cockpunched for that.

4:07 AM  
Blogger K. Ron Silkwood said...

nymary:

How rude and partisan that Eschaton place must be. I don't think a nice girl should be hanging out there.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Hecate said...

Prof. Altmouse,

I understand that you experienced a little incident with your hem this morning, hmm? Oh, and a few lost buttons as well? Perhaps you'd prefer to skip dinner this evening? Just saying'

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