So I see Ann Althouse, one of those phony "reasonable moderates," has an op-ed piece in the New York Times today telling us crazy hysterical liberals not to get our panties in a bunch just because Alito has a teensy-weensy handful of oh-so-insignificant batshit insane court rulings under his belt. In fact, this whole "Scalito" nickname thing is just as terribly unfair as when Justices Burger and Blackmun were lumped together just because they were both from Minnesota (oh yes, this is just exactly like that, isn't it...).
Her sole piece of evidence to "prove" that Alito is more liberal than Scalia is their interpretation of the First Amendment's protections of religion. Scalia wrote the Employment Division v. Smith decision which ruled that "neutral, generally applicable" laws cannot be considered infringements on religious rights.
Ah, but Alito found loopholes that allowed him to rule in favor of Muslim policemen whose religion obligated them to grow beards, and "a Lakota Indian who claimed he derived spiritual powers from two black bears." This is all very well and good, but does it really prove that he's not a conservative extremist, or merely that he defers to religion wherever possible? It's admirable that he would be so accommodating to non-Christians, but it's not much of a stretch to believe that he was thinking of precedents for future cases where Christian spiritual practices are being infringed. I must admit, it's hard for me to imagine any law infringing on Christians ever getting passed anywhere, but why take chances?
After getting her, ahem, substantive argument out of the way, she then proceeds to the real wanking:
Yes, chances are that a Justice Alito will please conservatives more often than liberals. Doubtless, many liberals will anguish over Judge Alito's opinion, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that would have upheld a law requiring that husbands be notified when their wives seek abortions. Still, they should give serious study to his record; they may discover that there are varieties of judicial conservatives, just as there are varieties of political conservatives, and that Samuel Alito is not Antonin Scalia.
Well, that certainly puts my mind at ease.
In a more general sense, President Bush should be commended for nominating someone with so substantial a judicial record. In the decades since the defeat of Robert Bork's nomination, presidents have unfortunately tended toward "stealth" nominees out of fear that actual evidence of the person's jurisprudence would only give ammunition to his opponents.
Oh yeah, nominating an in-your-face nutzoid conservative is ever so much more noble than nominating a stealth nutzoid conservative. Huzzah.
Those Democrats who are already insisting that Judge Alito's record on the bench makes him unacceptable should keep in mind that someday they, too, will have a president with a Supreme Court seat to fill, and it would serve the country well if that president wasn't forced to choose only among candidates with no paper trail. To oppose Judge Alito because his record is conservative is to condemn us to a succession of bland nominees and to deprive future presidents of the opportunity to choose from the men and women who have dedicated long years to judicial work.
So, if I'm reading this correctly, Ann is advocating that both sides nominate only ideological extremists instead of boring, "bland" moderates? I guess it doesn't trouble her that this would turn the Supreme Court into something resembling a nine-member Senate, except of course that it would wield absolute power over the other two branches of government, and all the members would be appointed for life rather than being periodically accountable to the voting public.
Oh well, different strokes for different folks, I suppose. At least we wouldn't have any more of that annoying suspense about how the Supreme Court might rule in any given case, right?