January 19, 2006

Leahy Gets Nasty

No one is surprised that Sen. Leahy (D - VT) just announced his intention to vote against Judge Alito. But in his accompanying speech at Georgetown University, Leahy sunk to a level of mean-spiritedness usually reserved for his fellow senator from Massachusetts. Here are a few examples:

Leahy called Judge Alito's talk in November 2000 before the Federalist Society Convention – including his remarks on the unitary executive theory –an "audition" for a Supreme Court nomination that "appeared to work, reminded those advising the new president that they had a known quantity in Samuel Alito." Of course, Leahy completely distorted the meaning of the theory by equating it with unlimited presidential power, a very popular Democratic "mistake" of late (the theory says only that the president controls all the executive power that is granted by the Constitution).

Leahy went on to say that the President nominated Judge Alito because he was assured – by Alito's speeches, record, and White House interviews – that Alito would be a rubber stamp for presidential power. Leahy compared this to FDR's court-packing scheme. Leahy concluded that "I asked Judge Alito to demonstrate his independence [from] the president and he failed that test."

Leahy then ridiculed Judge Alito's story, in his opening statement at the hearings, about "How in the world did I get here?" "How did I get here? I got a pretty good idea," Leahy said.

Leahy also accused Judge Alito of misstating Justice Jackson's famous framework for when presidential power is at its highest and lowest, given Congressional action on the issue in question. In fact, Alito's explanation of the framework at the hearings was not only accurate, but clear and articulate enough for my non-lawyer friends to understand.

I can only imagine what Sen. Kennedy will have to say when he announces his vote this afternoon.