A supreme disgrace

Long after the presidency of George W. Bush has passed into the annals of American disasters, Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. will likely still be on the Supreme Court, working to advance a highly partisan, ultraconservative agenda. This is the subject of a remarkably blunt essay in today’s Washington Post by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Kennedy accuses Roberts and Alito of dishonesty before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He points out that during their testimony the prospective justices pledged that they would be even-handed jurists, humble laborers in the vineyards of the law, without a partisan or ideological bone in their respective bodies.

Once they were safely on the Supreme Court with lifetime appointments, however, their actions became something quite different. Kennedy says:

Now that the votes are in from their first term, we can see plainly the agenda that Roberts and Alito sought to conceal from the committee. Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law.

The confirmation process became broken because the Bush administration learned the wrong lesson from the failed Bork nomination and decided it could still nominate extremists as long as their views were hidden. To that end, it insisted that the Senate confine its inquiry largely to its nominees’ personal qualities.

The administration’s tactics succeeded in turning the confirmation hearings for Roberts and Alito into a sham. Many Republican senators used their time to praise, rather than probe, the nominees. Coached by the administration, the nominees declined to answer critical questions. When pressed on issues such as civil rights and executive power, Roberts and Alito responded with earnest assurances that they would not bring an ideological agenda to the bench.

After confirmation, we saw an entirely different Roberts and Alito — both partisans ready and willing to tilt the court away from the mainstream. They voted together in 91 percent of all cases and 88 percent of non-unanimous cases — more than any other two justices.

One of the lessons to be taken from this, of course, is the need for Senate Democrats to show more backbone during any future confirmation battles. But the thing I can’t get out of my mind is the fact that for most of the rest of my life, maybe for all of it, two men will sit on the United States Supreme Court who are there only because of their willingness to lie about who they truly are.

And that’s a hard thing let go of.

Update in response to the comments: I share everyone’s frustration over the failure of the Democrats in the Senate to put up an effective opposition to Roberts and Alito.  In fairness, however, it should be noted that Kennedy voted against Roberts and helped lead the failed filibuster effort against Alito.  So it probably isn’t fair to suggest he simply accepted their testimony at face value.  

14 Responses to “A supreme disgrace”

  1. richl Says:

    If they did indeed lie then they would be impeached right? You know like how the president would be impeached if he were to do something illegal…right?

  2. blackjack Says:

    I say, Mr. Kennedy you let yourself be lied to and chose to believe that the lies that these two were telling was the TRUTH, For I watched hearings all what these two said at the hearings was not true IF YOU CARED ENOUGH TO FIND OUT. ALL you and your FELLOW SENATEORS had to do is READ SOME of the BLOGS ON the INTERNET and it was all there.BUT YOU LET PEOPLE LIKE JOE LIEBERMAN GIVE YOU THE KISS OF BUSH AND HIS CRIME FAMILY. SO PLEASE cry some place that will believe you.

  3. singe Says:

    i am dreaming? did anyone whose head wasn’t filled with cement not know that alito and roberts would be total right wing pigs who would vote with clarabel and mr. hey mombo, mombo italiano straight down the line? the only more obvious thing in american politics was the insight that dick cheney could face shoot someone and walk away with a pat on the back. big fan of teddy here but let’s get serious the democrats folded on a filibuster for no good reason.
    so now we have four sorta reasonable supremes, four total right wing lunatics ready to turn the clock back to the good old days of say 1840 and anuda kennedy but this one not from hyannis, who has our balls or ovaries as it be in his hands. this kennedy waffled on destroying the clean water act which was a sort of win that might last a few years…what will be telling is where he comes down on the case about whether or not the epa should regulate CO2….assuming our four friends see things in favor of the environment which is not a given…

    anyhow if bush gets another shot at the court you know he will go for another completely radical pig and if the democrats don’t filibuster and let the chips fall where they may i say its off to walmart manager trainee positions for the lot and for the rest of us its storm the bastille time…

  4. seagull1220 Says:

    Gee, why did I get strong vibes they were lying as they were answering the senate committee questions. First off, the committee was stacked. Second, all they had to do was smile and lie. They saddest part was that the republicans didn’t care if they smiled and lied… committee republicans had their marching orders to approve them regardless.

    I want the country I grew up in back!!!!!

  5. zeldon Says:

    why was an administration that was blatantly breaking or evading laws of every kind from international to national environnmental not held to very, very high standards by the Senate?
    This should have been explicitly argued if there were a true opposition in the
    Senate: you dont let Capone appoint the judges who will be ruling on his

  6. pressreader Says:

    Now, what Mr. Kennedy expected? The candidates were selected by a pathological liar, who heads (or so he thinks) the worst lying misadministration of this country in the last 250 years or so. The candidates lied their way through the hearings - and if they did not pass, they would have been appointed anyway.
    Was Mr. Kennedy born yesterday? Like my daughter points out: there’s a sucker born every second. Mr. Kennedy and the rest of the naive, spineless, cojone-less - be it figurative or literal - little token opposition party, were suckered AGAIN, and AGAIN, and will be suckered AGAIN.
    At least he actually admitted being suckered, but it doesn’t really help the situation, does it.

  7. Horus Says:

    There is no such thing as a lifetime appointment, to any office, in this Nation.
    Anyone can be removed from office if a majority of congress wishes to do so.
    Supreme Court justices can be impeached.
    If we take control of both houses of congress Alito and Roberts can, and should, be removed.

  8. ElleninBigD Says:

    Why can’t Alito, Roberts and Thomas all be impeached? They all lied under oath at their confirmation hearings. Every single one of them — and about the very essence of their judicial temperment and basic honesty. As far as Kennedy saying the committee was lied to, of course it was. But it was also stacked against the Democrats. No question they asked or vote they cast mattered. As it hasn’t in the last five years. I say, if the Democrats win in November, we impeach every judge appointed by Bush. Every single one.

  9. Crashcup Says:

    I am going to forward a copy of Sen. Kennedy’s article to my Senator, Ken Salazar, who was one of the spineless Democrats who joined the “Group of 14″ - which effectively greased the skids for the Alito and Roberts nominations.

    EVERYTHING that the progressive wing of the Democratic party has
    predicted - from the quagmire in Iraq; to the erosion of civil
    liberties at home; to the disastrous effects of the Bankruptcy bill on the lower and middle classes; to the hard-right agendas of Alito and Roberts - has come to pass.

    It is time for the Democratic party to STOP listening to the “go-along-to-get-along” DLC, and to START listening to the people who actually want to PUSH BACK against the Bushites.

  10. bigdavefromqueens Says:

    To Ted Kennedy and the Democrats I have one word: “DUHHHHH”

    Any novice trial lawyer with even a smidgeon of cross examining skills would have realized that they were lying big time especially with the evidence you had to contradict their testimony.

    But instead of cross examining the 2 liars and tearing them into shreds, Democratic Senators decided to grandstand with lengthy speeches and self aggrandizement.

  11. maturin42 Says:

    Shocked, are you? Why did all of us out here in the powerless and voteless hinterlands (thanks to the huge fraud of electronic voting with no accountability) know that Alito and Roberts were completing a packing of the court by the type of ideological radicals exemplified by Thomas and Scalia? It we plain that we could expect rubber stamps for the reactionary interpretations of law favorable to the fascist turn our government has taken. It was worth standing up against, but very few were willing to do so, and here we all are. I don’t want to hear any whining from those who played along with this cynical game. If you didn’t see this coming you are too dumb or innocent to serve in the Senate.

  12. skittrell Says:

    Sen.Kennedy…since when have we been able to assume that any
    republican will honor their word. I have sat and watched them lie like
    hell….why in the world would you even admit that you listened to these
    two promise to be even handed..? When the entire governement and all
    of Washington DC is republican…and the worst kind of republican…why
    in the world would anyone beleive anything should change. ???

  13. askalice Says:

    Shrewd as Ted Kennedy is I seriously doubt that he was “taken in” by the lies of the two now Supreme Court Justices, Roberts & Alito. But if there is a chance of impeaching them it does need to be pointed out that they lied through their lying teeth…One cannot be impeached for being a total right wingnut but lying under oath is a different matter. Or at least it’s supposed to be.

  14. illcommandante Says:

    When we run our war criminals to the ground, we’ll take these thugs to the wall with them. This is still America. The little Roberts Boy stood on the stage screaming to all the world “Haven’t you fools got eyes?”. Not even “Our” Dems listened.

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