Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Brownback at Alito's Confirmation Hearing

The title link leads to NPR's coverage of Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court. I had the opportunity to watch some of the confirmation hearings this morning while getting ready for my day. The particular portion of the proceedings involved Sen. Brownback's first round of questions to the nominee. The bulk of the questioning involved dealt with Alito's judicial philosophy. Interestingly, it included a long diatribe about how Rowe v. Wade remains unsettled law. The first thing that bothers me about these proceedings is how the political parties approach this as a soap box to promote their party for the midterm elections. Sure, this is politics, but realistically, before Sandra Day O'Connor's confirmation hearings, the elaborate proceedings we know now were less than rare. Before the 1980's most appointments simply went to an up or down vote. More importantly, the Constitution doesn't require these type of proceedings to take place, rather congress has the right of comment and consent. U.S. Const. Art. 2 Sec. 2. This process, as it stands now, is important for informing and protecting the public. It adds an important democratic component to the process. But, should it be used for political purposes? The rhetoric of the representatives involved seem to say no. This, though, seems to disregard that precept.

Second, some of Alito's "perspectives" don't logically match one another. One example is his approach to privacy rights. Alito reads the constitution in a way that imbues a right to privacy, but this right does not extend to all situations. The primary example used in the hearings is his views on abortion. In my mind privacy extends to any and all personal choices or personal affects. The point here is not to stir up the abortion debate, rather point out the reaches of the "right to privacy" in Alito's view. The lingering question is exactly what limits exist on a/the right to privacy?

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