Sunday, January 15, 2006

Alito - all process, no humanity

As my tag-team buddy keeps up his commentary on the Election, I'll keep up a sustained banging on Alito hearings.

David Broder, in the Post, makes the excellent point that Alito's a company man. He writes, "At no point that I heard did Alito express sympathy for the men and women who came to his court looking for help -- and were turned away." This matches my own view on Conservatives - if they can find a way to read a statute ueber-narrowly, they will, letting the statute triumph over either the intent behind it (think of the ADA or various civil rights provisions), or the people whom it is meant to benefit.

A shocking case Broder points to is one in which an all white jury convicted a black man, where the local prosecutors had eliminated all blacks from the jury in five trials over the past year. Ignoring supreme court precedent to the contrary, Alito dismissed the complaint (mercifully in dissent) with the trite line: "Although only about 10 [percent] of the population is left-handed, left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections."

His fellow judges criticized this analogy, which he explained in the hearings with some dry, technical answer, ignoring completely the human fact behind the case.

If this is what we want - machines who will do their best to ignore the fact that the Constitution protects the individual, that the Constitution is a shield for the average person, that the goal of our society should be the expansion of protections and the increase in individual freedom - then Alito is perfect.

But as we lurch ever forward, giving the president authoritarian power, gutting the Bill of Rights, all while intoning a belief we're following what the Constitution requires, and ignoring that behind every law suit is a person coming to the court for help, Alito will be in the vanguard.

I, for one, am scared.

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