Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fox News is reporting Alito Confirmed by Senate - Updated, Twice

Fox's site still shows the story as a "likely" confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court but they've also got a breaking-news banner that says the vote's in. Alito appears to have been confirmed by the Senate.

Update: Our local news radio station, WTOP, has the story. Alito was confirmed 58-42 by the Senate. I would imagine this will be a largely party-line vote. We'll see when the results get posted.

Update again: Here's the roll coll for the voting. I note that 1 Republican voted "no" as did all but 4 Democrats. Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line speaks about the era this vote has just introduced and says it best:

::::::::This was basically a straight party line vote -- 90 percent of the Democrats voted no. The vote changes the "rules" for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under the Alito rule, Senators will vote against highly qualified nominee for no reason other than that they expect the nominee to rule contrary to their preference on major issues. Under the Alito rule, the president's party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president's party doesn't control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed.::::::::

Indeed. Alito's record of ruling by the laws passed by the legislature was never the issue. His rate of being overturned by appeals wasn't the issue. The issue - fully, completely - was 1) whether Alito would die before voting to overturn Roe v. Wade and 2) whether he'd side with Congress against the President when any question of who had the authority in a given matter was raised. The Dems and leftish Republican Lincoln Chafee thought the answer to both those questions was "no" and, therefore, voted no. Experience and a 15-year record on the bench be damned, Alito's politics were just the wrong flavor.

And this, thanks to the Democrats and Mr. Chafee, is now the playing field all subsequent nominees will get to play on. All their work, all their learning, all their striving to be good jurists are useless wastes of time. Only their stance on the more divisive issues of the day in question will matter. Paul's right: from here on out, no President will be able to select the best, most talented members of the legal profession to sit on the High Court unless his party controls the Senate. If they don't, only the most bland ones will do.

Who do you think gets hurt by that most? The President, whoever that is? Hardly. Eight years and they're gone. Congress? What do they care? They've made sure most laws they pass don't apply to them anyway. No, my fellow Americans, it's us. We citizens who get to live with the results of their petty squabbling will pay the price of having people at the highest level of the judicial system making boneheaded decisions due to a lack of experience, insight, and just plain good jurisprudence. The Republicans had, during the Clinton years of 1994 to 2000, opportunities to play this politics game with the membership of the Supreme Court. They recognized that a difference in idealogy was insufficient reason to vote down a qualified candidate for the post. That the idealogy wasn't the point of the nomination at all. They had the chance to do exactly what the Democrats have done here today - and they controlled the Senate so it would have stuck - and they didn't. They placed the respect for the will of the people as embodied in their choice for President above their idealogical differences with the man and focused on the judicial qualifications of the nominee. The Democrats have not and do not. What benefit could possibly accrue to the Republicans and their supporters to not follow this example?

This new era into which we are being carried along with all the nominees to come is entirely of the Democrats' making. I hope they enjoy the change to the world they've wrought.