January 3, 2006


Question for Judge Alito: What About One Person One Vote? (ADAM COHEN, 1/03/05, NY Times)

When Samuel Alito Jr. applied for a top job in the Reagan Justice Department, he explained what had attracted him to constitutional law as a college student. He was motivated, he said, "in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment." The reapportionment cases that so upset young Mr. Alito were a series of landmark decisions that established a principle that is now a cornerstone of American democracy: one person one vote.

There has been a lot of talk about the abortion views of Judge Alito, President Bush's Supreme Court nominee. But his views on the redistricting cases may be more important. Senator Joseph Biden Jr., the Delaware Democrat who will be one of those doing the questioning when confirmation hearings begin next week, said recently that Judge Alito's statements about one person one vote could do more to jeopardize his nomination than his statements about Roe v. Wade.

Rejecting the one-person-one-vote principle is a radical position. If Judge Alito still holds this view today, he could lead the court to accept a very different vision of American democracy, one in which it would be far easier for powerful special interests to get a stranglehold on government.

Joe Biden represents a state of less than 800,000 people, yet his vote in the Senate counts the same as that of Barbara Boxer who represents about 36 million Californians. One-man-one-vote is anticonstitutional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Even in the House, the requirements that each state have at least one representative and that district bounderies not slop over state lines undercuts one man/one vote.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 3, 2006 8:37 AM

I respectfully disagree and would like to hear Judge Alito's current position and reasoning on redistricting. Thirtyfive years is a long time and many undergraduates have changed positions on many subjects, thank heavens.

Posted by: Genecis at January 3, 2006 8:44 AM

"One man one vote" is of course anti-constitutional, and there's no straight-faced argument to be made about it. But the real reason why it's grotesque is that it is anti-liberty, and that's all that matters.

Posted by: b at January 3, 2006 11:37 AM

Joe Biden (my senior senator for life, more's the pity) counts the day wasted if he hasn't said half a dozen idiotic things about the Constitution before lunch-time. His idiot son, having finally managed (on the third try) to pass the Delaware bar exam in 2002 and now passing his time chasing ambulances, will soon be attorney general of Delaware. The Bidens are an unspeakably depressing lot, but the Delaware GOP is hopelessly incompetent.

Even if Joe is the Democratic standard-bearer for president in 2008, he will run essentially unopposed for reelection to the Senate. The only consolation in that miserable eventuality will be that I shall be able to vote against him twice on the same day and be certain that he will not be able to hold both offices simultaneously.

If you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my hands, and give serious thought to a stiff drink before lunch.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at January 3, 2006 11:59 AM

Random - Senior senator for life. It'll be fun watching Joe handle senile dementia with much less aplomb than Bob Byrd does...

Posted by: M. Murcek at January 3, 2006 2:10 PM

Putting on my "Karnak the Magnificent" jeweled turban, I feel a prediction coming on.

Those people are going to try to go after Alito by asking him to revisit the Pentagon Papers and Ellsberg cases. The idea is going to be that Alito is not to be confirmed because he would vote to reverse New York Times v. United States and that he would uphold prosecution of leakers.

This is going to be presented as extrarordinary circumstances justifying a filibuster. Now ask Karnak why the Times waited until just now to blow the NSA foreign intercept surviellance story.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 3, 2006 10:09 PM

Trying to get my thoughts around the comments, I give up, can't figure it out.
Of course the Kerry/Boxer dichotomy is Constitutional, it's written in the Constitution in no uncertain nor ambiguous terms.
However, and now we climb onto my own special soapbox, why would a State's practice of the Federal form of legislature be "unconstitutional"? Only the Warren Court could come to this decision.
Here in the late, great State of CA, we had a wonderful form of legislative functioning, a Senate with one Senator from each County (more rural/Conservative counties than urban/liberal ones (see 2004 elections red/blue map by county))and an Assembly based on population, much more liberal than the Senate.
The greatest time of CA was prior to the Warren Court's invalidation of this system of government
Pat Brown's Administration was the last one to enjoy this dichotomy of interest and what's best for the State's legislation. This is why I as a Conservative, and sometime Republican, look fondly on Pat's accomplishments, especially in the infrastructure and education.
Since then, unfortunately, the urban/liberal/progressives have ruled the legislature, with the Senate being reduced to another population based House.
Now, of course, the Warren decision has brought about the ruling of an entire State by the Public Employee Unions.
Roe was not the only horrible to the Nation and it's peoples ruling by SCOTUS in the 2nd half of the 20th Century, "one man. one vote" is right there. Unfortunately, while Roe may yet be overturned and the power returned to the states, one man one vote, even if "overturned" would change nothing in the CA legislature, nor any other state legislature which was changed by the original ruling.

Posted by: Mike Daley at January 3, 2006 10:15 PM