President Bush must be an early riser. Every single one of his last three Supreme Court announcements since September has come bright and early in the morning. When he did so first thing this morning, he nominated the type of judge that he was elected to nominate: 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito.
The announcement of Judge Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor was met with the bellyaching from individuals like New York Senator Charles Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy that conservatives have been waiting for since O'Connor first announced her retirement. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said the nomination would "divide the country." Minority Leader Harry Reid decided to imply that Alito was "a radical."
Conservatives voted for Bush in 2000, and again in 2004, largely because of his promise to reign in judicial activism around the country, especially on the Supreme Court. Liberals breathed a sigh of relief as the first Bush term approached a conclusion with no Supreme Court vacancies having opened up, and believed they were in the clear with their golden boy, John Kerry, surely about to be elected. But then the unthinkable happened - the American people returned George Bush to the White House to get another chance to do what he was unable to do during his first term - nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court. Even worse for liberals, they watched their slight minority in the Senate become even smaller, which meant a greater difficulty in fighting any potential nominees.
Along came John Roberts, who was at first pilloried by fringe liberals and media pundits for being neither a racial minority nor a woman, as if these qualities were more important than judicial philosophy and legal background. With every word they spoke, it was fairly apparent that liberals did not want to support Roberts at all. NARAL, the large pro-abortion group headed by Kate Michelman, managed to issue their opposition and anti-Roberts talking points within minutes of the announcement by the President. But the Democrat Senators used a considerable amount of tact. After all, Roberts had a fairly spotless record, and had nothing that they could use to "bork" him in the Judiciary Committee. Oh, they tried. They tried to make him out to be a hardass for rules, as displayed by the "french fry case." Then, when they couldn't find anything concrete for their own base to oppose him, they tried to entice conservative opposition by claiming that Roberts supported gay rights cases as a lawyer. Nothing would stick to him. Ultimately, only the most liberal Senators voted against his confirmation as Chief Justice, largely citing a "lack of answers" when they demanded to know, basically, how he would rule on specific cases, which court nominees have never had to answer.
Conservatives got their man on the court, but the fight they desired left them a little unfulfilled. Ultimately, Roberts replaced Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a move expected to keep the balance of the court generally at the status quo. Ardent conservatives awaited the sure sign that a nominee would be most to their liking - when Senate Democrats would fight tooth and nail to oppose the nominee. So when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to a general bit of applause from the Left, conservatives got flustered immediately.
Democrats, for their part, realized that Miers represented a good outcome for them - an unknown quantity not seen since the successful nomination of David Souter, who quickly became a liberal-leaning jurist. They realized that while Miers was not exactly who they wanted, it was likely the best they could hope to get from Bush. Conservatives, meanwhile, had a fit. Not only did Democrats seem nonplussed by her nomination, but strict constructionists pointed out that Miers herself, even if she did turn out to be conservative, would be more likely to become a conservative judicial activist on the court than to interpret the Constitution. While pro-life groups hailed her nomination, most conservatives were livid. Ultimately, if Miers had not withdrawn her nomination, Senate Republicans more than likely would have removed it themselves.
After Miers' departure, Democrats panicked. Immediately switching sides in a 1984ish method, they largely took credit for spiking one of the Bush nominees, and warned that the next nominee would have to be more "moderate" (read: liberal). Instead, Bush nominated Judge Alito, who appears to be ideologically more like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Left's two Darth Vaders of the court. Reid and his band of merry men surely saw a nomination like this coming as soon as Miers withdrew.
Reid blasted the nomination, saying, "President Bush would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys club." I guess I missed the part of the Constitution which said that the Supreme Court had to look a certain way. Again, like Roberts, Alito is guilty of being a white man, which is an unforgivable crime in today's politically correct atmosphere in which Democrats live. According to their logic, since Roberts was a white male, the next nominee, therefore, is required to have either a different complexion, or a different gender, or both. Expect this to be the first method of attack, followed by attacks on his record, and, if necessary, attacks on his character. Judge Alito certainly must know that these attacks are forthcoming - which makes his acceptance of the nomination quite the courageous move.
The Left sees Alito for what he is - a man who will move the Supreme Court more towards the "strict constructionist" mold than the "legislate from the bench" court that we have seen for over a decade now. The Judiciary has been the last refuge for liberal power in America since 2000. Since that time, the Left has been losing elected power both in Washington and around the country. The Supreme Court, their last bastion of power, is sliding out of their grasp, and they won't go down without a fight. Unfortunately, it is a fight which they are doomed to lose, either in a Senate floor vote, or in the court of public opinion.