January 11, 2006


Judge Alito Proves a Powerful Match for Senate Questioners (ADAM LIPTAK and ADAM NAGOURNEY, 1/11/06, NY Times)

If Senate Democrats had set out to portray Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as extreme on issues ranging from abortion to government surveillance of citizens, they ran up against an elusive target on Tuesday: Samuel A. Alito Jr. For nearly eight hours, Judge Alito was placid, monochromatic and, it seemed, mostly untouchable.

Unlike the testimony of John G. Roberts Jr., who had often declined to answer questions on various grounds, among them that certain issues might come before him as chief justice or that his older writings did not necessarily reflect his current views, Judge Alito's default impulse frequently seemed to be to try to give a direct response to the senators' often rambling questions.

Failing that, he offered what he presented as clarifications of earlier statements or writing, sanded of any rough edges, or said he simply could not recall details about some past chapter of his life that had raised concern among senators. Only in one exchange did he appear rattled, refusing to give a direct answer when Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York asked him if he still held a view, expressed in 1985, that there was no constitutional right to abortion.

For the most part, his handling of questions from Democrats had the effect of leaving his questioner shuffling through papers in search of the next question.

An accomplishment that seems impressive until you recall that even Ollie North made the Senate look silly.

But Enough About You, Judge; Let's Hear What I Have to Say (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 1/11/06, NY Times)

The Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. were supposed to be about the judge, but on Tuesday it sometimes seemed as though somebody forgot to tell the senators on the Judiciary Committee.

The lure of 50 cameras and the captive audience in the Senate Hart Office Building appeared too much of a temptation for some of Capitol Hill's windiest lions, who began by promising not to run a marathon session of questions, then did so anyway.

At one point Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, was even granted two extra minutes from the committee's chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania - drawing groans from colleagues, among them Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

Fox News clocked one Joe Biden "question" at almost 12 minutes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2006 8:27 AM

Even Ollie North!

oj. I take it you didn't see the North hearings.

The senators started the day sarcastic and bombastic, but Ollie played them like a fiddle. By the end of the day, after the telephone calls and telegrams came pouring in denouncing the senators' treatment of the great hero, the tone of the questioning started to change and the senators started to look bewildered. It was purely fabulous.

In fact I always thought it was Ollie who Clinton was trying to imitate when he went into his furled brow, sincere little boy, I feel your pain act.

Posted by: erp at January 11, 2006 10:34 AM

senators' often rambling questions.

From the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Deliberative Body"? Say it ain't so.

Posted by: pchuck at January 11, 2006 11:28 AM

Great pictures on Drudge of committee Democrats' faces.

Posted by: Dave W at January 11, 2006 11:35 AM

From the same article:

The senators frequently did not follow up on their own queries, and Mr. Biden in particular devoted most of his 30 minutes to talking, leaving little time for the nominee to speak.

Joe Biden! I am shocked, shocked I tell ya! If he keeps this up (he's only been a senator for 34 years - a fact that you'd never hear him tell you), then I am going to come to the conclusion that Mr. Biden likes to hear himself talk.

Posted by: pchuck at January 11, 2006 11:40 AM


Exactly and he's not exactly the brightest bulb in the lamp.

Posted by: oj at January 11, 2006 11:55 AM

Ollie made Inouye look senile, and that was 19 years ago.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 11, 2006 12:40 PM

Outside of Chuckie, I doubt the other senators could be very happy today reading this story, considering the Times' normally freindly releations with Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee. A pan by the Times is about as devistating in this case as one of those old Frank Rich theater reviews that could shut down a Broadway show within a week.

Posted by: John at January 11, 2006 1:36 PM