- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2005

About Alito

Sam Alito has spent his entire professional career defending the Constitution,” Mark R. Levin writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The president and Alito deserve our strong support. It is clear the media this morning are urging Democrats to fight this nomination, not that they need that much encouragement. We are already hearing the usual superficial analyses about how Judge Alito will vote on specific issues, and so forth. We must be prepared to explain and defend our judicial philosophy, and contrast it with the left’s lawlessness,” Mr. Levin said.

“I have known Judge Alito for two decades. We served together in the Meese Justice Department, where he worked in the Solicitor General’s Office and was considered the sharpest of Charles Fried’s assistants. He is every bit as smart and personable as Chief Justice John Roberts. He is an expert on constitutional law. And he obviously has a longer judicial record, so his judicial philosophy is well-known. Judge Alito is soft-spoken. He is his own man. (Efforts in the media [yesterday] morning to paint him as ‘Scalia-lite’ or ‘Scalito’ are intended to fire up the left-wing base.) If he is not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, then no conservative is qualified.”

About Alito II

“Well, that’s more like it,” the Weekly Standard’s Terry Eastland writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“In Judge Sam Alito, President Bush has chosen a more plausible High Court nominee. Make that a much more plausible nominee. His legal qualifications are exceptional, his character widely attested. And having spent 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, he has demonstrated an approach to judging that clearly identifies him as a judicial conservative,” Mr. Eastland said.

“Two points are worth noting on day one of this nomination. The first is Alito’s legal experience. His many years on the Third Circuit mean that he knows the labor of an appellate judge, which of course he’ll continue to be, only now at the highest level. But early in Alito’s career he had plenty of trial work — first as a young prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, and then, some years later, as the head of that office. He knows what it means to investigate a case, to go before a grand jury, to charge or not charge, to prosecute beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Furthermore, there are the six very different years Alito spent in the Justice Department. From 1981 to 1985 he served in the Solicitor General’s office, where he worked on appeals to the Supreme Court, arguing a dozen cases. And from 1985 to 1987 he was the chief deputy in the Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, which William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia headed during the Nixon and Ford presidencies, and which has the critical job of advising the president and the departments on legal issues.”

“(An aside: I happened to work at main Justice from 1983 to 1988, and Alito’s reputation then was that of a bright, hard-working lawyer of even temper and reserve. He came into the department as a career employee, but his exemplary work impressed his superiors, who recommended him for his presidential appointments as U.S. attorney and to the Third Circuit.)”

Presumed innocent

“By all accounts, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the Valerie Plame special prosecutor, is an experienced and thoughtful man. But he has demonstrated yet again that the special prosecutor syndrome is alive and well,” Theodore B. Olson writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“The man he has indicted, Lewis Libby, was investigated, along with numerous others, to see whether someone violated a law prohibiting the intentional disclosure of the classified identity of a covert intelligence agent who’d served as such outside the U.S. during the five years preceding disclosure,” said Mr. Olson, a former solicitor general.

“Apparently he committed no such crime — at least the indictment doesn’t charge him with that. Instead, Mr. Fitzgerald asserts, he misled investigators and grand jurors about conversations he had with reporters regarding Ms. Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador engaged in a bitter dispute with the administration over its justification for the Iraq war.

“If Mr. Libby intentionally lied to investigators or the grand jury, he committed a crime, and that is a serious wrong. But I’m according him a heavy presumption of innocence, not only because the Constitution guarantees that, but because I know him to be an honest, conscientious man who has given a large part of his life to public service.

“From personal experience as a former public official who has been investigated by a special prosecutor, I know how easy it is not to be able to remember details of seemingly insignificant conversations. I know, also, what a prosecutor with unlimited time and resources can come up with after endless probing.”

Scowcroft’s views

“The punditry world is abuzz with talk of a recent New Yorker article by writer Jeffrey Goldberg, who has interviewed Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser for the Ford administration and the administration of George H.W. Bush,”Pejman Yousefzadeh writes at www.techcentralstation.com.

“In a number of passages in the piece, Scowcroft takes on the current Bush administration over the issue of Iraq, something for which he has earned applause from many Democrats and other Bush critics,” the writer said.

“But when one reads the entire New Yorker piece, one finds that Scowcroft’s critique is directed at foreign policy idealism in general. And it’s a critique that should make Democrats jubilant over his attacks on the Bush administration’s foreign policy more nervous than they appear to be right now. Scowcroft’s brand of foreign policy realism is shot through with contradictions and weak attempts at self-justification that should cause many realists to take issue with his arguments.”

Mr. Scowcroft thinks as little of Clintonian idealism in Haiti and Bosnia as he does of the Bush administration’s “neocon” foreign policy ambitions, the writer said.

“It’s clear that Scowcroft’s statements in the New Yorker article are not simply attacks against the current Bush administration. Rather, they are a shot across the bow against the likely foreign policy ambitions of any future Democratic administration that would emulate the Clinton administration’s foreign policy,” he said.

Mr. Yousefzadeh added: “Scowcroft has a blind adherence to the status quo that overrides any realist impulses he might have and that causes him to ignore both realist philosophy and history itself.”

Reverting to type

“Finally, the battle everyone has been waiting for,” John Dickerson writes at www.slate.com.

“Since summer, Washington has been preparing for a Supreme Court brawl, a chest-beating showdown filled with sweeping displays of pettiness, small-minded political bickering and explosive camera-luring rhetoric. John Roberts turned out to be too qualified for that. Harriet Miers wasn’t qualified enough. Now, with the nomination of Samuel Alito, both parties can revert to type.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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