Alito is perfect for the Court

Staff editorial The Lantern The Ohio State University

The Senate Judiciary Committee began its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito this week, reinvigorating the debate over Alito’s qualifications and judicial leanings.

As the discussion ensues, it is important to evaluate Alito’s qualifications as they apply to his past record, the position he would be filling and the role of the judiciary in our democracy. It is time to finally fill this hotly contested open seat on the high court.

Senator Joseph Biden remarked that justices face only one democratic moment, the confirmation hearing.

This is an important moment, when the will of the people acting through their elected representatives challenge and evaluate the nominee’s judicial record and ideological beliefs.

Senator Mike DeWine in his statement during the hearings reinforced the deference that a Supreme Court Justice should make to the will of the people.

“When it comes to our Constitution, judges perform an important role. But, the people … play an even more important one,” Senator DeWine remarked. “[The Constitution] prefers the will of the people to the unchecked rules of Judges.”

Alito’s judicial record and statements illuminate his position as a textualist, adhering to the written word of the Constitution.

During his hearings, Alito said “the judge’s only obligation, and it’s a solemn obligation, is to the rule of law.” Following this belief, Alito would defer to the Constitution and would defer to the precedent set by the Court. Sometimes it is hard to sort all of it out.

First, Alito has been nominated to fulfill the seat left vacant by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor, a former Arizona judge nominated by President Ronald Regan, was seen as the conservative moderate on the Court, a careful balance and important swing vote in the make up of the bench.

Alito would also be a conservative, but undoubtedly much farther right-leaning than the moderate O’Connor.

Will the balance be unduly tilted? No.

Alito is conservative, but one should remember that he is being nominated by a Republican president to fulfill an opening on the Court.

Therefore, it follows that with the departure of O’Connor, the president would fill the position with a conservative judge. This is not out of the ordinary.

Secondly, as a believer in the rule of law, Alito would defer to the legislature, and hence, defer to the people acting through their elected representatives. As such, citizens retain the power to create the laws and therefore set the moral fabric encompassed in these laws. Alito as a Supreme Court Judge will likely not pursue an ideological agenda, but merely strictly defer to the acts of Congress.

Third, although the debate over any Supreme Court nominee tends to focus on hot-button issues, such as abortion, Alito is an apolitical judge.

As Senator DeWine remarked, “[Alito’s] modest approach to judging seems to bode well for our democracy.” Alito himself today stated he would defer to the precedent of the Court, and therefore we can assume under this reasoning, current Court precedents will stand.

Alito is a fair choice for the bench. Although controversial in some of his ways, he should not be stonewalled in obtaining the appointment to the high court.

Yes, he is conservative.

Yes, he has controversial views.

But he is a faithful interpreter of our Constitution, and a strict believer in deferring to the rule of law and therefore a defender of our democracy.

In our opinion, Supreme Court Justice nominee Alito should be confirmed.