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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alito and the Professors

Tomorrow marks the onset of the Alito hearings.  Via Paul Caron, I just came across this letter signed by over 500 law professors who oppose Alito's nominationconfirmation. It stands in contrast to the "well-qualified" rating Alito garnered last week from the ABA, whose commission also includes law professors.  I wonder if there are any other advocacy letters written either on behalf of or against Alito--aside from the Alito project at Yale.  In any event, I am waiting to see what unfolds during the hearings, if anything, before finally making my mind up.  As a predictive matter, though, I'd be surprised if anything could derail the Alito nomination.  Still, I suspect that at least a dozen more Senate Dems will oppose Alito than were willing to oppose Roberts earlier this year.    

Posted by Administrators on January 8, 2006 at 08:19 PM in Constitutional thoughts | Permalink


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Perhaps that number should be normalized by removing those who voted against President Bush last fall, in the same manner as opposition from those groups who chanted "Stop Souter or Women will Die" and who warned that confirming John Paul Stevens was the end of a "woman's right to choose" should be discounted.

There's a credibility gap here. How may of these professors would support any nominee by a Republican President? Is it really Alito they're opposed to, or just any Bush nominee? Better yet, where were these five hundred law profs when Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court (an action similar to nominating his personal CPA to replace Greenspan) - where was the outrage at the insult to the court, the horror at the diminution of the institution of the court?

The fact is, Bush could nominate Larry Tribe and NARAL would issue a press release warning it meant the end of Roe.

Posted by: Simon | Jan 9, 2006 9:59:14 AM

I really wouldn't read much into a letter signed by 500 law professors oppsing Alito's confirmation (as a point of clarification -- do they really oppose his "nomination," or is it more the "confirmation" that bugs them? I'd wager the latter as the former is pretty much a done deal). Law professors are people with political preferences, too. Just because they may (and many of those who signed do not) have some specialized knoweldge in an area relevant to Alito's position doesn't mean their political preferences don't dominate in a matter like this. So is it really any more relevant that 500 lawprofs came out against Alito than if 500 engineering profs did so? Not by much. Moreover, what's the baseline? What percentage is that (around 10 by my back-of-the-envelope calculation based on little knoweldge of the denominator)? And of that percentage, how may do indeed have relevant specialized knoweldge? And of that number, how many reliably vote on the "merits," whatever that means, rather than by (possibly quite idiosyncratic) political preference?

Posted by: lawprof | Jan 8, 2006 11:57:41 PM

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