Liberal Support for Alito
Really, I'm not certain what to make of this, but ... information wants to be free, so here you go:
The "deciding specific issues" approach to judicial decisionmaking has been associated with the Justice that Alito would replace, Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor is known for writing very narrow opinions that resolve little more than the precise set of facts presented to the Court - and some have criticized her for that practice, preferring that Justices write expansive opinions laying down broad rules for future cases. I asked Pringle whether she thought Alito was in "the O'Connor mold" in this respect. She thought that he was. She described Alito as "interested in focusing on the immediate case at hand. He is not someone who is eager to reach out and grab broad principles and institute them separate and apart from the case." I asked whether Alito might alter his case-by-case approach to judging on the Supreme Court. Pringle didn't think he would.So there you have it. He's not my cup of tea, in fact I'd probably throw the cup out after, but I'm more than willing to entertain these counter-arguments until they're proven otherwise. That, after all, is what the rest of the week is all about.
Moving into more dangerous territory, I asked Pringle whether she had any sense of how Alito would apply stare decisis (the doctrine counseling respect for precedent) on the Supreme Court. Her view is that, because of Alito's tremendous respect for the Supreme Court as an institution, he is unlikely to overturn precedent lightly. Rather, he will grapple with existing precedent, even when he might have decided the original case differently, and will give considerable importance to the opinions and approaches of the Justices that came before him. She thought that overall Alito's approach would probably resemble that described by now-Chief Justice Roberts in Roberts' confirmation hearings. As to specifics, Pringle was not willing to hazard a guess as to whether, given the chance, Alito would vote to overrule hot-button cases like Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas.
Pringle's bottom line is a pragmatic one. Of course, Alito would not have been on John Kerry's or any other Democrat's short list for the Supreme Court. But, as we all know, John Kerry didn't win in 2004, nor did the Democrats capture a majority in the Senate. Given that reality, Pringle said, "I'd rather have someone who has real intellectual ability, who has experience, who has a history of making these kinds of difficult decisions, and who has demonstrated respect for the Court as an institution, than a stealth candidate." And given the other candidates on the "conservative short list," Pringle is optimistic about Alito. She says that he will treat every case fairly, and that "we'll be proud to have him on the Court."