I've got a dream of my own, where partisan politics can be pushed aside for a single week so that a Supreme Court nominee can be questioned tastefully and thoroughly on his/her integrity as a judge and qualifications for the job. Of course we all know that this is nothing more than a dream. Especially when you consider the fact that in my dream there are no Democratic senators, and Rachel McAdams is fanning me with a large palm leaf while Scarlett Johansson is feeding me grapes.
This dream might not ever happen (let's leave some room for hope), but last week's confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito were quite a nightmare.
It's nothing that we shouldn't all be used to by now; Democrats have thrown fits when it's come to this president appointing federal judges and Supreme Court Justices. The weather forecast seems to be that Democrats will not degrade themselves with the filibuster tactic this time around, which should save them some time and save us some grief.
It still doesn't excuse the downright shameful behavior that took place during the hearings though. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) made it quite apparent that his agenda was a simple one: To prove that Alito was a simple-minded, pro-life super conservative that desired nothing more than to aid warlock Bush in his evil plans to make the world a horrible place.
In his opening remarks Kennedy told Alito that Bush was abusing his power, trying to kill firstborns, planning to steal Christmas and making people eat their vegetables. In a time where the president is so far off of his rocker, the Supreme Court is that much more important, especially if we ever want to see grassy meadows, fertile women and plump livestock ever again.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) complained about Alito being a white man and effectively told Alito that he didn't think he was the man for the job. I'll give the man his due though because Sen. Leahy might have towed the line on Kennedy's witch-hunt mentality but he was relatively fair throughout the process as far as I saw.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was not, however. Schumer showed his true colors on Tuesday when he pressed Alito on his 1985 statement that the Constitution did not protect a woman's right to an abortion (something that even the majority opinion author in the Roe v. Wade case has affirmed years later). Schumer demanded that Alito tell the panel if he felt the same way today. Alito very intelligently responded that he felt that way in 1985, but that his opinion would not matter if he were to be confronted with a case concerning abortion today.
Alito reinforced the idea that his duty as a Supreme Court Justice would be to evaluate the case at hand and give it fair treatment with regards to the Constitution.
Problem solved, right? Not for Schumer, who apparently needed a hearing aid or the ability to process a well-articulated answer. He continued to demand that Alito give the panel a yes or no answer. Kennedy was giggling with delight while sharpening his pitchfork. I never saw the end of that exchange, but I assume that Schumer ran out of batteries or threw a temper tantrum.
The Democratic senators in this case who thought they were playing hardball and were going to show the nation that Alito was unfit for the job ended up doing nothing more than scoring points for Alito. They embarrassed themselves when they tried to paint the man as a back-peddler and a racist. Ted Kennedy didn't really help his case for that one day when he is eventually thrown into the funny farm.
Democrats failed in their duty to properly question the man on the variety and depth of issues that his nomination warrants. Instead, they used the forum as a political podium to voice their complaints about conservative ideology. If anything could be said about the Republican senators on the panel, it might be that they oftentimes simply sang Alito's praises without asking tough questions.
The fact of the matter is that Alito is actually a good candidate for the job with a superb record. I know that Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court might be a nightmare to Sen. Kennedy, but it's a wonderful alternative to Kennedy's dream of Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo interpreting the Constitution.
Tyler Wittman is a senior Speech Communication major. His column will return to Tuesday next week.