The Ponies Have Left the Show

Monday, January 09, 2006

Today marked the commencement of Sam Alito's Supreme Court hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was – as expected – a day for grandstanding by the 18 senators who got 10 minutes apiece to expound on what they expect from Alito in the upcoming days to win their approval.

It's a formality, of course, because it's pretty much in the bag that Alito will get a party-line vote. If Senator Chuck Schumer didn't vote for Chief Justice John Roberts then there isn't a chance in hell he'll support Scalito.

When finally given the opportunity to deliver an open statement near the end of today's session, the appellate judge distinguished his career as an attorney from his jurist profession: "The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand, but a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge certainly doesn't have a client."

The speech would have been perfect had Alito said the Constitution is the judge's client, but that's small beer compared to the more important days just around the corner.

The real fun begins tomorrow at 9:30 AM when Alito will respond to questions from the senators. Some are describing it as a "grilling" as they did for John Roberts, but I have no doubt in my mind that Alito will be teaching the senators a few things this week about Constitutional law rather than the other way around.