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Spinning Alito

Much media attention has been given to Sam Alito's "pro-life" ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he upheld Pennsylvania's spousal notification law for abortions.

The media has given much less attention (and in some cases none at all) to Alito's "pro-choice" rulings: overturning New Jersey's partial birth abortion ban and upholding Medicaid funding for abortions in certain instances.

This skewed media coverage may not be altogether fair, but it's not unexpected. After all, alarmism sells. More disturbing to me is the media's attempts to infer from these decisions some indication of Alito's personal views on abortion.

The problem is that a Supreme Court Justice's job is not to issue rulings based on his personal beliefs, but to determine whether an existing law is compatible with the Constitution and established precedent. There is too much misunderstanding already about the proper role of the Supreme Court without the media contributing to it.

Alito's "mixed" record on abortion seems to indicate that he understands that his job is not to be a "pro-life" judge or a "pro-choice" judge, but to consider each law based on its legal merits, period. It would, for example, be a mistake to infer from the Casey ruling that Alito personally supports spousal notification. Rather, he merely issued his opinion that the requirement, with its numerous exceptions and exemptions, did not constitute an "undue burden" on the patient. It's also worth noting that Alito cited the opinions of Sandra Day O'Connor in arriving at his inclusion -- the very same Justice O'Connor whom liberals are now insisting be a role model for the next justice.

In short, the abortion rights absolutists who will try to portray Alito (who was confirmed to the Court of Appeals by a unanimous Senate) as some rigid, pro-life ideologue will only reveal themselves to be fundamentalist fanatics and nutcases.

More significant to me is Alito's decision in United States v. Rybar, a dissent that's sure to generate controversy in weeks to come. In this case, Alito demonstrated that he refuses to regard the Commerce Clause as a license for the federal government simply to regulate whatever it likes. For me, this was a bare minimum of what I was willing to accept from a Supreme Court Justice. It's perhaps unkind to say, but I was unconvinced that Harriet Miers even knew what the Commerce Clause was, much less that she possessed a philosophical predisposition to oppose its expansive interpretation.

This case is also significant in that it shows Alito is not hostile to individual gun rights. The fact that Rybar was, on its surface, about scary sounding "machine guns" might have been enough to spook a lesser judge into tossing federalism out the window. Not so Judge Alito.

I'm sure we'll learn much more during the weeks ahead, but so far? The more I read, the more I like.


Sorry, Barry, but when it's not YOUR body that this guy is trying to say belongs to your husband, not to you, you have no dog in this hunt.

What utter bullshit.

In this case, Barry, for once, is entirely correct. The function of the Supreme Court is not to "protect the freedoms we have worked so hard to achieve" as nut-case alcoholic murderer Ted Kennedy hiccuped out the other day. For him to even say that is quite frightening.

The function of the Supreme Court is not protect anything. It is a court of law. They are not freedom fighters, they are justices.

I hope and pray he is a strict constitutionalist and that he is confirmed.

What utter bullshit.
I submit to you, sir, that the correct response was, "That's nice, li'l lady. Now where's my damn turkey sandwich?"

Yep, that's indeed a superior answer. I'd hate to be responsible for her head exploding, though.

A minor nit, however. I believe the appropriate spelling in such a context is "sammich."

Good point. I think my Misogynist Style Guide is one or two revisions out of date.

As to her head exploding - frankly, I just say things like that to see if they'll yell, "KEEP YOUR AGENDA OFF MY PUDENDA!"

They're so cute when they get all riled up.

In Barry's defense, Judge Alito actually did tell him that Barry's body belonged to his husband.


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