13 January 2006

The best part

The best part of these past few days of hearings was the testimony of Judge Alito's 3rd Circuit colleagues.

They were erudite, effusive, often giving plain spoken intelligible by non-lawyers (like myself) explanations of what a jurist does, what makes a jurist excellent, and why Judge Alito has displayed these past 15 years everything you could hope for in a Supreme Court Justice.

Of course, little coverage, no commentary, and most of the Democrats fled before these Judges were presented.

On top of all that, Sen. Feingold pre-emptively cast a pall on this testimony by suggesting that Judge Alito would have to recuse himself from any future cases that came from any of these jurists should they come before the Supreme Court. Here's the transcripts (taken from WaPo) of the little rabbit punch Sen. Feingold threw at the very end of his questions:

FEINGOLD: Judge, let me switch to an ethics issue that is not Vanguard. As you know, after your testimony concludes today, a number of outside witnesses are coming to testify about your nomination, including seven current and former judges from your court.

As far as I know, this is the first time that sitting federal judges have testified on behalf of the Supreme Court nominee. And I'm a little troubled by it. I hope to have some opportunity to question the judges about this, but I think it may raise something of an ethical issue for you.

If you are confirmed to the Supreme Court, how would you analyze a possible recusal motion if an appeal on a case from one of those sitting judges testifying on your behalf were to come before you? Will you have to recuse yourself from any case where one of these judges was involved in the decision?

ALITO: That's not a question that I've given any thought to before this minute, Senator, so I don't know that I could answer it and I would want to answer any recusal question very carefully.

FEINGOLD: Perhaps you could give me an answer after you've had a chance to think about it?

ALITO: I would certainly be happy to do that.

FEINGOLD: I appreciate that.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I think that is sufficient. Thank you very much.

Sounds fair, but seems a bit of a stretch, and assumes that Judge Alito is utterly incapable of objectivity, which if were true than he must have been doing a great job of pretending these past 15 years.

Too bad Judge Alito couldn't just answer, 'You jerk, what do you take me for, of course this testimony won't pose a recusal or ethical problem for me in the future, and if you believe it would than you'd have to be terribly cynical or grossly partisan. Which are you Senator Feingold?'

But, life can't be so real.

1 comment:

Pooh said...

It's a legit an interesting question. Getting reversed is highly embarassing for a judge. If Alito is tight enough with these 7 for them to testify in his favor, he might be less willing to reverse them. A stretch? Perhaps, but it's a question worth thinking about especially because it hasn't happened before.