Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito: Does CAP Really Matter?

It's confirmation hearing time, and the best part of that is a week of Dahlia Lithwick. There's been much hand-wringing from the left on Alito's membership in a crazy-ass "Keep Princeton White and Male" organization back in the 70s, and why he would highlight that on his resume when he got his job in the Reagan White House.The Republicans want to dismiss all of this simply because Alito wasn't "on the board, or a major contributor." Depending on who and what you read on this it's easy to think both sides are off base. Is this really that important?

It takes a good writer to draw out the reason that this issue, while old and small, matters. From Lithwick's Wednesday report:
But as trivial as the screaming over CAP may seem, it matters. Not because it proves the nominee hates women or minorities or criminal defendants or immigrants. That's a caricature of a conservative judge. It matters because CAP was code in 1985 for all the things Alito refused to write on his application and refuses to discuss before the committee now. Instead of being forthright about his convictions, Alito hides behind the fiction that there is only one way to decide cases. Instead of proudly bearing witness—as he has done throughout his career—to his opposition to the Warren Court's rulings, his disdain for the reasoning in Roe, his preference for states' rights, strong police powers, and "traditional values"—he pretends that all those amassed thoughts and ideas are irrelevant. He pretends—as do his supporters in the GOP—that every one of those thoughts has absolutely no bearing on how he decides cases. And that is just not true.

I recognize why Judge Alito can't talk openly about his convictions. I keep waiting in vain for that brave conversation to take place. I suppose I understand why he cannot stand before this committee and say, "Yes, I believe that most employment discrimination claims are probably bogus; that most cops are honest and that most death-row prisoners deserve to die. Period." That would require a hell of a sales job. But if we cannot have an honest conversation about Alito's legal views and preferences, his coded messages become doubly important.

Membership in CAP and using that to burnish your creds as a angry white conservativeIs this worth three days of hammering? Only if the hearings were a month long, and this was week three... While that shit is worrying, the biggest reasons to keep Alito the hell off the bench have nothing to do with what kind of an ass-kissing bigot he tried to sell himself as to Ed Meese.

But Dahlia's right. If no one is allowed to get a straight answer on matters of actual importance or substance, the stupid shit starts to matter. By not giving an answer, Alito forces us to fill in the blanks.

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