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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 03, 2014

 
The losing fight that cost us big time


by digby

With all the talk this week about the liberals' favorite Justice, Samuel Alito I thought I'd take a little walk down memory lane in my Salon piece this morning and revisit the Supreme Court hearings wherein liberals tried in vain to filibuster him.

Reading that quote about Alito not imposing “preferences or priorities” from George W. Bush one couldn’t help harkening back to the earlier day when he nominated his associate Harriet Miers and was immediately put in his place by his bosses in the conservative movement. Recall that his close advisor Ann Coulter said at the time:

[S]ome jobs are so dirty, you can only send in someone who has the finely honed hatred of liberals acquired at elite universities to do them … Conservatives from elite schools have already been subjected to liberal blandishments and haven’t blinked. These are right-wingers who have fought off the best and the brightest the blue states have to offer. The New York Times isn’t going to mau-mau them — as it does intellectual lightweights like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee — by dangling fawning profiles before them. They aren’t waiting for a pat on the head from Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse. To paraphrase Archie Bunker, when you find a conservative from an elite law school, you’ve really got something. However nice, helpful, prompt and tidy she is, Harriet Miers isn’t qualified to play a Supreme Court justice on “The West Wing,” let alone to be a real one.

The qualification, you’ll note, wasn’t the allegedly superior law school degree but rather the “finely honed hatred of liberals.” Bush listened, he learned, and he nominated Alito, a hardcore right-winger best known for his view that strip searching 10-year-old girls without a warrant was perfectly acceptable. Liberals everywhere went ballistic. After all, the justice he was replacing was Sandra Day O’Connor, a moderate swing vote, not a rigid ideologue as he clearly was. The court’s tilt to the right would be precipitous.

I know that we're not supposed to like the filibuster. Liberals never used it when it was important, while conservatives were so effective at keeping President Obama's nominees off the Federal Bench the Democratic Senate finally had to eliminate it altogether for judicial nominees. Unfortunately, their feckless adherence to outdated norms that only exist for the purpose of keeping liberals' from achieving their ends led to this horrific wrecking ball of a Supreme Court.

Let's just put it this way --- if Anthony Kennedy had retired from the bench instead of Souter or Stevens, do you think conservatives would have allowed President Obama to replace him with a hard core liberal Justice along the lines of William O. Douglas without a fight? Yeah, me neither.

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