Monday, January 09, 2006

SCOTUS kabuki

The entracte for the final phase of the Alito confirmation process took place today. The Judiciary Committee blowhards wasted an entire day pontificating, rather than asking questions. Yet all of them asserted the importance of what has become a total charade. Senator Schumer got on the tube afterwards and claimed that how Alito answers question this week is the key to whether he will be confirmed.


After Robert Bork was rejected for telling the truth, the standard for conservative Supreme Court nominees has been somewhere between soft-shoe obfuscation and full-bore bullshitting. Alito is going to face some tough questions, all of which have been telegraphed well in advance. And the chances that Alito will answer them honestly approach zero.

So he will be asked if he would vote to overturn Roe, and he will stonewall. He will be asked if he believes there are limits to executive power, and he will prevaricate. He will be asked about the agenda obvious in his writings, and he will claim he no longer has one. Because he is a made man, a monarchist, and a throwback to the Lochner era -- all of which would disqualify him if he said so -- he will put on face paint and ill-fitting raiments and pretend to be the judge most Americans want.

In short, for this elaborately scripted stage show, Alito will present himself as a judge of a species utterly unrecognizeable based on all that has come before, and all that will come after. He will tell stories that would send him to the same scrap heap where Harriet Meiers now lives if the religious right believed them. But the religious right knows that the Alito being paraded before the cameras is not the real Alito. They know that the bait-and-switch is how conservatives make it to the Show.

The whole confirmation process is based upon a fundamental premise: that the nominee will tell the truth. That's why they are sworn in. But that premise no longer holds. Lying and misleading are now the rule rather than the exception. And the disembowling of the Constitution will be the result.


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