On Thursday, the Rockefeller Center was pleased to welcome Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice to speak about "The Politics of Judicial Selection and the Future of the Supreme Court." With the Alito hearings concluded but the vote not yet taken, we timed this one right. (See this article in The Dartmouth for news coverage.) It was a pleasure to meet her and to hear her ideas. As much as I disagree with most of them, I certainly respect the influence she has in the judicial nomination and confirmation process. She's a fine example for our students of entrepreneurship in the public sector.
As I listened to her presentation, I couldn't help but be reminded of the old quote about the 1972 election, in which a McGovern supporter says, "I can't believe Nixon won. I don't know anyone who voted for him." Her assertions that the people of the country would prefer that Alito not be confirmed just don't square with the observations we can make about the process:
- Judge Alito fits the profile of the nominee that we expect from President Bush.
- John Kerry did not win the 2004 election.
- Polling data suggest support for Alito's confirmation that is in keeping with the 2004 election results.
- Democratic Senators in states that could go either way in the next elections are voting for Alito's confirmation, like Byrd (WV), Johnson (SD), Nelson (NE).
(h/t to Powerline for the links in the last two points)
Wisely, I think, she did not advise the Democrats to filibuster. We leave that for those Democrats who don't expect to face strong competition for re-election. And it's fine for them, but it will be rough on their fellow Democrats if they go ahead with it. I cannot say it any better (and I certainly say it with less credibility) than Andrew Seal, writing at The Little Green Blog:
Just when will it be ok to say that the liberals from the generation of the 1960s have no idea what they're doing and never did?
When can it be said that Democrats are the minority party because we never tried to be the majority, post-New Deal? We did everything to win short of convince 50.1% of America that our ideals are worth voting for. And now we wonder why they don't.
When can it be said that some of the ways we fought for the liberties we now strive to protect created the very attacks we now attempt to repel?
When can it be said that a NASCAR dad can be trusted as much as a college professor to know what's good for himself?
When can it be said that if we do not have faith in the American people, we cannot expect or demand their faith in us?
When can it be said with conviction that America will overcome the challenges and threats—domestic and foreign—that it faces, as it always has? That Americans as citizens have an unshakeable bedrock of civic commitment and democratic ideals that we, as Democrats, can and must rely on rather than try to circumvent?
The second point is particularly important--in electoral politics, all that matters is winning a majority in a majority of the contests. The Senators contemplating a filibuster would do well to remember that they could elevate their station from "Ranking Minority Member" of their committees if they made it easier for enough of their fellow Democrats to win their Senate elections, too.