Alito -vs- Women on the left and those of us in the middle too...
I am blown away by Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito and how he has managed to do a total 180-degree turn of the caliper of his nominees in such a short amount of time. I am sure he realized his mistake with Miers (or was her nomination actually a set up to help push the Alito nomination through?) and needed to make his clan on the right happy. Yes Alito has served on the federal appeals court for 15 years so at least the experience is there (where Miers it was completely absent) – but if this nomination is confirmed – Bush has succeeded in making the court less diverse and far more conservative.
All of us should be scared.
On the day of the Alito nomination, I saw a quote from Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) that I believe sums it up pretty well:
"Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not strength."
Among Alito’s noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. He said, “The Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands’ knowledge because of perceived problems — such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition — that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion.” While I agree with open dialogue between partners, the woman has a right to choose whether or not to carry the baby. Married or not. Yes, the appropriate thing to do is consult with her husband, but do not assume all women will and do not make a law requiring she do so. Well, I guess there is no question where I stand.
So if Alito’s nomination is accepted, we will have ourselves a nice little old boys club, and while Alito says he is not going to the bench with a political agenda – I have a hard time believing him.
We need to voice our opposition (assuming you agree) to his nomination and ask that the bench to be inclusive to ensure a greater understanding from the people making decisions that affect the lives of individuals and families in the United States. If the Court does not represent the diversity of society at large, how can we believe they will be impartial?
Justice O’Conner has done an amazing job in reviewing each case individually and voting based on merits, not on political beliefs, but I believe she might be a rare kind of people. Is there another solid, experienced, well-rounded woman who leans slightly to the left who can replace O’Conner and ensure true diversity on the bench? I do not normally believe in someone securing a job solely based on gender or race, but I think in this situation, I am willing to make an exception - with a sidebar that asks for prior bench experience too.
I found another interesting quote from Madame Justice Bertha Wilson who was the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. She has attempted to explain the differences between men and women in their approach to the judicial task. She said: “Men see moral problems as arising from competing rights; the adversarial process comes easily to them. Women see moral problems as arising from competing obligations, the one to the other; the important thing is to preserve relationships, to develop an ethic of caring. The goal, according to women’s ethical sense, is not seen in terms of winning or losing but, rather, in terms of achieving an optimum outcome for all individuals involved in the moral dilemma. It is not difficult to see how this contrast in thinking might form the basis of different perceptions of justice.”
Hmmmmm. Right or wrong, it makes you think just a bit doesn’t it?
So, I don’t know if appointing more women to the bench will miraculously transform the law and its application. Maybe female judges will bring the same impartiality and neutrality in judging that their male counterparts do – maybe not. But I would like the opportunity to find out. I will require though as mentioned above – our female nominee(s) need to bring a resume highlighting prior judicial experience and a legacy that shows they have a clear understanding of the constitution and all the rights that come along with it.