mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Real Mainstay Of The Future Roberts Court”: Samuel Alito, More Than Just A Face In The Conservative Crowd

In an important piece today that’s worth reading and remembering, the New York Times‘ Linda Greenhouse profiles Samuel Alito–beginning his tenth year on the Supreme Court–as the true conservative titan of the U.S. Supreme Court, more so than the unreliable Roberts and Kennedy, the erratic Scalia or the eccentric Thomas.

[T]o the political right, and to a degree that has escaped general attention, Sam Alito is much more than just a face in the conservative crowd. He’s something special. He is a rock star — and not only for his headline appearances at gatherings of the conservative Federalist Society. He is the redemption of the promise that failed a quarter-century ago, when John H. Sununu, chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, assured worried conservatives that the president had selected a hole-in-one Supreme Court nominee: David H. Souter.

Greenhouse does well to remind us of the Souter nomination, a grievous “stab in the back” to conservatives for which the Bush family has been doing penance ever since.

In the November issue of the religious journal First Things, Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen, describing Justice Alito as the “man of the hour,” accurately labeled him “the most consistent, solid, successful conservative on the court,” adding: “There are louder talkers, flashier stylists, wittier wits, more-poisonous pens, but no one with a more level and solid swing than Justice Samuel Alito….”

He delivers: not only in the big cases, like Hobby Lobby last June, in which he wrote the majority opinion upholding the right of a corporation’s religious owners to an exemption from the federal mandate to include contraception coverage in their employee health plan, but also in less visible moves that don’t get much public attention but that speak powerfully to the base.

It sounds discordant to suggest that a Supreme Court justice has a base, but Sam Alito has one. One of several recent hagiographic articles in the right-wing press was one in the American Spectator back in May, describing Samuel Alito as “one of the noblest men in American public life today.”

Greenhouse goes on at some length to document Alito’s ideological consistency, and also his strategic savvy, particularly in signaling which kind of cases might offer the conservative bloc on the Court to undo some key progressive precedents. Indeed, the more you read about Alito, the more you can see him becoming the fulcrum of a future Roberts Court that’s been supplemented by another conservative appointment or two from a Republican president. He’s only 64, a relative youngster in the SCOTUS context. So he’s biding his time until the Court has been turned crucially in his direction. It’s all a bit chilling.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 9, 2015

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Samuel Alito, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In A Partisan League Of His Own”: Alito, Doing Everything He Can To Be ‘A Corporation’s Best Friend’

On Monday morning, around 10 a.m. ET, much of the nation’s political and legal world turned to Scotusblog to learn the outcome of two of the year’s biggest Supreme Court cases. Moments later, the blog told us that Justice Samuel Alito was delivering both rulings.

And it was at this point that everyone immediately knew that conservatives had won both cases.

What about the possibility of a surprise? How could everyone be absolutely certain that Alito would side with the right? Was it really so inconceivable that Alito would honor precedent and play against type?

Actually, yes, it was inconceivable.

Ian Millhiser made a compelling case today that Alito is “the most partisan” justice on the bench, making it pretty clear what to expect when he’s written a ruling.

According to data by Washington University Professor Lee Epstein, Alito is more likely to cast a conservative vote than anyone else on the Court.

To be fully precise, that does not make Alito the Court’s most conservative member. That honor belongs to Justice Clarence Thomas, who is the only member of the Court who openly pines for the days when federal child labor laws were considered unconstitutional. Yet, while Alito can’t match Thomas’s radicalism, he is far and away the most partisan member of the Court.

To explain this distinction, Thomas is not a partisan. He is an ideologue. His decisions are driven by a fairly coherent judicial philosophy which would often read the Constitution in much the same way that it was understood in 1918.  While this methodology typically leads him to conservative results, it does occasionally align him with the Court’s liberals…. What makes Alito a partisan is that there is no similar case where his judicial philosophy drove him to a result that put him at odds with his fellow conservatives.

To put this in perspective, note that Millhiser highlighted a striking detail: Alito is the only sitting justice who has never crossed over – in effect, breaking ranks with the usual ideological allies – in a closely divided case.

Nine years ago, you’ll recall that Alito was not George W. Bush’s first choice. Rather, the Republican president initially nominated Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, for the lifetime appointment on the high court.

It was among the more foolish decisions Bush made, which ended in an embarrassing withdrawal.

Miers was obviously unqualified, but Bush’s second choice, Sam Alito, is in many ways worse.

Millhiser’s indictment on Alito’s partisanship, his activism, his reliance on a raw political perspective, his desire to be “a corporation’s best friend,” makes a persuasive case and is worth checking out.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 2, 2014

July 6, 2014 Posted by | Corporations, Samuel Alito | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ayatollah Alito”: Still Not Sure That Elections Have Consequences?

Ayotallah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, say hello to your new comrade, Ayotallah Samuel Alito. Supreme Leader meet Supreme Court Justice.

And, no, regrettably, this is not hyperbole.

With his pronouncement in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court Justice Alito signaled to the world that America has joined the world’s theocracies.

This extraordinary nation, borne of the Enlightenment 238 years ago to the day, will now cloak power, policy and even what qualifies as facts in the vestments of religious belief.

Because, as Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent (p. 65ff), religious beliefs cannot be questioned either for substance or sincerity. If one, for example, asserts scientifically that IUDs prevent implantation of fertilized embryos, the scientific response would be to explain that their mechanism of action is to prevent fertilization (the sperm cannot ‘swim in a dry lake’ to reach the ovum to fertilize it).

But, if one makes the same claim religiously, then that is the end of it, even if it determines the application of public policy. The Court cannot question the assertion nor whether you believe it, and now, post Hobby Lobby, if you are empowered to act upon it, your religious beliefs determines secular policy for other people.

The Koch Boys, for example, can now claim a religious belief that carbon dioxide is not a heat-trapping gas. So, they can now violate EPA regulations so that their “religious freedom” is not burdened. Post Hobby Lobby, the Ayatollah Alito may declare that, e.g., a carbon tax is a “less restrictive” way to “impose” a science-driven public policy upon the Kochs’ religious beliefs about carbon. Will Congress, under the influence of the Koch Boys, pass such a tax? Of course not. Game… set… match… and planet.

God probably reminded Art Pope this morning that the minimum wage is a sin. Is there a “less restrictive” way to establish adequate wages for his employees, so we do not “burden” the poor sot’s religion? The Ayatollah Alito could choose between the Earned Income Tax Credit and workers’ “freedom” to bargain in the free market to establish wages. (I kid you not… listen to JFK’s rally for Medicare, especially 14:36-16:50.)

As previously described, right-wing politics is not just pro-business, it is itself a big business. The more vitriol, the more money the right-wing groups can raise, and it is protected as political speech. By contrast, when a commercial enterprise raises money from investors, or makes claims about its products, it is subject to fines and/or imprisonment for false and misleading claims.

But, that is just speech. Now, post Hobby Lobby, a simple claim of religious belief, blessed by Alito, can be used to thwart public policy so long as there is any “less restrictive alternative,” real or imagined, that can be referenced. It is a full-employment ruling for the Right Wing Belief Tanks, such as Heritage, to concoct the alternatives.

What does this mean for America? Whatever semblance of democratic government has survived its purchase as a result of the Citizens United ruling is now snuffed out by the counter-majoritarian (see, e.g., Bickel, The Least Dangerous Branch) Supreme Court. Does it, should it, matter if the “less restrictive alternative” is even viable? Who decides these matter of public policy? Our new Supreme Leaders.

It means that “closely-held” corporations will have competitive advantages against all the others as they will not have to comply with federal or state law because they are now deemed to be capable of holding religious beliefs about public policy and, if those beliefs conflict with public policy, the beliefs win.

But, it may also have consequences Alito did not consider. For example, if religious beliefs can now stay the application of public policy, will they remain forever free from scrutiny? This is quite different from advocating a public policy position grounded in religious belief. Hobby Lobby allows corporations to thwart enforcement of public policy based upon unchallengeable religious belief.

Moreover, since corporations can now, apparently, hold religious beliefs, as creations of the State, does their very existence not now violate the First Amendment’s Establishment clause? The State, after all, provides corporations with special benefits such as limitations on personal liability, licenses to operate, and so forth. If such entities can themselves have religious beliefs of any kind, has the State not helped establish these religions?

Such considerations will, of course, require the return of some enlightenment to the Supreme Court.

One can almost hear the Founders weeping.

Still not sure that elections have consequences?

 

By: Paul Abrams, The Huffington Post Blog, July 3, 2014

July 4, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Hobby Lobby, Samuel Alito | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: