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Congress’ black caucus opposes Alito nomination
Question of the Day
The Congressional Black Caucus’ 42 House members yesterday unanimously opposed the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, saying the nominee’s judicial philosophy actively opposed civil rights and race discrimination protections.
Rep. Melvin Watt, North Carolina Democrat and caucus chairman, said Judge Alito’s actions as a judge and deputy solicitor general during the Reagan administration create an “extraordinary circumstance,” the standard that the bipartisan “Gang of 14” senators said needed to be met to filibuster a judicial nominee.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the CBC judicial nominations task force, said Judge Alito has dissented, sometimes by himself, against plaintiffs in discrimination and affirmative action cases, “often against established precedent.”
“He has tried to keep them out of the courts entirely,” said the District’s nonvoting representative.
Of particular concern to the CBC are cases that had nothing to do with race, but involve Judge Alito’s dissents calling for restricting congressional authority granted under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. They also oppose Judge Alito’s judicial opinion that racial discrimination cases must have significant evidence before they can be heard.
Mrs. Norton said unlike Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. before his confirmation, Judge Alito cannot fall back on arguments that he was advocating for the administration as he challenged Supreme Court decisions in favor of racial discrimination remedies while at the Justice Department, a pattern she said continued as he made it to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The caucus’ opposition to Judge Alito comes weeks before Senate hearings are scheduled to begin on Jan. 9.
Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, and the only member of the caucus with a vote on Judge Alito’s nomination, has not made up his mind and is scheduled to meet with the nominee this month.
Both Mr. Watt and Mr. Obama said they were concededly sore that the White House refused to allow the nominee to meet with them. After sending a letter to Judge Alito and the White House requesting his presence Nov. 17, Mr. Watt said he was told the caucus’ request was “moot.”
Mrs. Norton said the real concern is the admonishment Judge Alito has received from his fellow circuit court judges in two separate cases, Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. and Bray v. Marriott Hotels, two cases where employees sued after being passed over for promotions.
The Coalition of African American Pastors, a conservative group of community leaders said the CBC opposition has a political bent in a nomination process that should be devoid of one.
“We want a justice who will judge fairly according to the Constitution as it is written. … We are not interested in whether a judge’s ruling is considered a liberal or conservative position but the correct position based on the law,” wrote the 12 pastors in a statement released yesterday.
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
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