February 01, 2006

Alito Drifting to the Left?

Is Justice Alito drifting to the Left already? I must admit the thought entered my mind after Alito sided with the Court's liberal bloc today, leaving a last-minute stay of execution in effect for an inmate claiming that lethal injection – a method of execution specifically designed to be more humane – is cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course, one vote proves nothing. But I ask the question as a sobering reminder that it will be years before we know if Justices Alito and Roberts will suffer from the leftward drift phenomena that afflicted Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, etc. I have no doubt that Alito and Roberts have a strong commitment to a constitutionalist judicial philosophy, but when you're in the glare of the spotlights and your only reviewers are the media and law professors, the pull towards the left is awfully strong as well.