Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, today. Judge Alito is currently on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (PA, NJ, DE). From everything I know of him and his judicial history, I couldn’t be happier about his nomination.
Of course, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) felt the need to say, “It is sad that the president felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O’Connor, who would unify us.” Justice O’Connor, while she may have been a very interesting Justice to watch, was not a unifier. She did not unite Americans, though she did get a unanimous confirmation by the Senate. I am very doubtful that any nominee could come anywhere close to unifying America, generally, and I am even less persuaded that would be a good thing to look for in a nominee. After all, the job of a Justice of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution and the laws of the land, not to win a popularity contest; that’s what the other branches of government are for.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) complained that the appointment would “narrow the high court’s view, making it less diverse,” according to CNN. I’m not sure what grounds he reaches that conclusion on; it appears to be the tired, liberal argument that gender and race determine viewpoint to such a great extent that a group of mixed gender or mixed race is inherently more ideologically diverse than a group of one gender or one race, without considering the specific individuals involved. Of course, I think Reid would see a court united behind overturning Roe v. Wade as not diverse, but one united in maintaining that particular precedent as appropriately diverse. More likely, it was just partisan rhetoric, and Reid didn’t even consider on what basis he made his claim.
Anyway, Alito is so similar to Justice Scalia, ideologically, that his nickname is Scalito. Prior to the nomination, some websites were already selling protest bumper stickers, reading, “There’s a reason they call him ‘Scalito.'” Ironically, that’s just as apt as a statement of support, for half of the country.