Another Alito Conference Call
At 2:30 today, I was fortunate enough to be invited to another conference call on Alito. This one featured Ed Gillespie, who’s billed as Alito’s sherpa up on Capitol Hill.
The key thing they were trying to accomplish was to knock down the latest Democratic line of attack on Alito, which is that he may have done something unethical by ruling on cases involving Smith Barney and Vanguard. In both cases, Alito conducted himself properly, ethically, and he did nothing wrong (See here & here).
However, there is a small hitch. Alito, during his confirmation hearings in 1990, said, “that he would disqualify himself from” any cases involving the Vanguard companies, the brokerage firm of Smith Barney.
So again, even though Alito ruling on both those cases was well within ethical guidelines, why did he do something different than what he said he would do back in 1990? I asked a question about it and so did Stephen Bainbridge — and the answer was…no real answer. They side-stepped it.
To me, that’s very odd, because the entire point of the conference call seemed to be to talk about these allegations and, yes, they did effectively nuke the charge that Alito did anything improper on any of the cases, but what about the Senate questionnaire back in 1990?
This shouldn’t be a tough issue to work around. How about this answer?
“Well, he was being overly cautious in the questionnaire and after hearing what some legal ethics experts had to say about the matter, he decided to go ahead and hear the cases since there wouldn’t be any conflict.”
Once something like that is said, it slams the door on the issue. After getting those questions from us, hopefully they’ll be inspired to get this straightened out.
On the upside, the Alito nomination is still looking very good. Not only does a filibuster seem unlikely at this point, Alito seems likely to get votes from all the GOP Senators and even a few Democrats. So up to this point, Alito is looking completely confirmalicious =D
*** Update #1 ***: Others commenting on the conference call include:
*** Update #2 ***: By the Tim Chapman asked: “there was any merit to conservative concerns about reports that Alito has embraced the Roe vs. Wade decision as precedent that deserves “great respect.”
That was answered like so:
“Gillespie said that the question of Stare Decisis relative to Roe vs Wade was discussed in the Roberts hearings and Roberts made very much the same point. But, cautioned Gillespie, “We have not heard judge Alito in his own voice on this.” You give deference to the members of the Senate, but since his introduction we have not heard from him.”
I would just add to that while you never truly know what a judge is going to do until they actually rule on a case, I wouldn’t sweat that. For one thing, Supreme Court precedents are deserving of “great respect,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overturned.
Just keep in mind that Samuel Alito is a textualist, just like Bork, Alito, and Thomas. Given that there nothing in the Constitution that supports Roe v. Wade, the minimal amount of law that’s built on top of it, and textualists tend to be less respectful of precedent than other judges, it’s highly likely that Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade if he was given the opportunity.
So, that’s not something worth getting worried about at this point…