CNN Well-Prepared to Attack Any Conservative Supreme Court Nominee

Within seconds of President Bush finishing his announcement of Samuel Alito as the nominee to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, the CNN “American Morning” team was ready to attack and criticize this decision (video links to follow). First, Candy Crowley said, “I think what you're going to see is some disappointment that this is obviously a white male replacing a female, leaving just one female on the Supreme Court.”

Next up was Ed Henry:  

“Candy is absolutely right. She set the stage perfectly. The word I'm hearing over and over from Democrats is ‘provocative.’ They basically say the president, A, did not consult with Democrats as he did with Chief Justice John Roberts, as he did before Harriet Miers was nominated. Also that they feel that Judge Alito is more conservative than they expected. They were hoping more of a consensus choice. This is already opening the door for Democrats to try to make the case that there are extraordinary circumstances here, i.e. that they may filibuster the nominee. That's why you heard the president immediately say that Judge Alito deserves an up or down vote. That is code for don't filibuster this nominee.” 

The first specific cases that CNN chose to address concerning Judge Alioto involved abortion. Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was brought in for the next hour to discuss this:

“In 1991, he ruled that a Pennsylvania law that said women who wanted to get an abortion, who were married, had to inform their husbands. Judge Alito said that was constitutional. The United States Supreme Court took an opposite view, said it was unconstitutional, said it was an interference, an undue burden on a woman's right to choose abortion. That is a, many people believe, an indicator on where he stands on the whole issue of abortion, on overturning Roe v. Wade. And it's going to get a lot of attention.”

What follows are transcripts of both reports, as well as video links.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's go right to Candy Crowley. Really, Candy, it was like having someone's resume read to you and a pretty good resume, too.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'd love to go back and see how long the Harriet Miers introduction was versus this. I suspect this was longer.

Absolutely. But it's not only that. I mean, it's that Princeton-Yale corridor is still intact. And I think what you're going to see, and I know Ed Henry will probably talk about some of the Democratic reaction, but I think what you're going to see is some disappointment that this is obviously a white male replacing a female, leaving just one female on the Supreme Court. We know even the president' wife, prior to all of this, had really pushed for having a woman on the court. So I think there will be some disappointment there.

I think you will see most centrist Democrats holding their fire, saying, "OK, let's -- let's move forward." We saw after Harriet Miers was -- withdrew her nomination, we saw Democrats saying, "Oh, this is terrible. Look what the radical right wing has done. We certainly hope the president won't feel that sort of pressure when he comes up with the next guy." So that's the kind of argument I think we're going to see.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Ed Henry. OK. The next guy, as Candy says, is up. What does the battle look like?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy is absolutely right. She set the stage perfectly. The word I'm hearing over and over from Democrats is "provocative." They basically say the president, A, did not consult with Democrats as he did with Chief Justice John Roberts, as he did before Harriet Miers was nominated. Also that they feel that Judge Alito is more conservative than they expected. They were hoping more of a consensus choice.

This is already opening the door for Democrats to try to make the case that there are extraordinary circumstances here, i.e. that they may filibuster the nominee.

That's why you heard the president immediately say that Judge Alito deserves an up or down vote. That is code for don't filibuster this nominee.

Look at the contrast from Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. The day that Harriet Miers was nominated and came up to the Hill, he was falling all over himself, praising her. He was leaving an open mind on how he would vote but was saying good things about her.

Immediately, a statement put out from Reid this morning, saying he's, quote, "disappointed." Quote, "The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people." Mentioning right there man, as Candy said, not woman, the man to replace Harriet Miers -- Soledad.

Video Link

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JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Hi.

S. O'BRIEN: So, let's talk about specific cases, because many times they say it's not a litmus test on affirmative action, and they don't want a litmus test on abortion. Of course those are the things people focus on.

TOOBIN: And especially abortion. And, you know, what we have seen with Samuel Alito is one opinion in particular will be, I think, in the focus of enormous attention in this nomination battle.

In 1991, he ruled that a Pennsylvania law that said women who wanted to get an abortion, who were married, had to inform their husbands. Judge Alito said that was constitutional. The United States Supreme Court took an opposite view, said it was unconstitutional, said it was an interference, an undue burden on a woman's right to choose abortion.

That is a, many people believe, an indicator on where he stands on the whole issue of abortion, on overturning Roe v. Wade. And it's going to get a lot of attention.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, no question about that, I think. Any other cases?

TOOBIN: Well, there is another case later on, where in 2000, the Supreme Court and the decision by Justice Stephen Breyer, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the majority, said that a Nebraska law, partial birth -- banning the practice of late-term or partial birth abortion was unconstitutional. Nebraska interfered with a woman's right to choose.

Judge Alito honored that precedent. He used that precedent in striking down a similar law.

So, you know, he is a lower court judge. He has to follow the Supreme Court. If he becomes a Supreme Court justice, you have a lot more flexibility regarding precedent. And that was kind of clearly a reluctant following a precedent by Judge Alito.

We'll see how he stands. And we'll see how he expresses himself in the Supreme Court nomination hearings, because questions about the right to privacy about Roe v. Wade will be enormous.

S. O'BRIEN: It's only just beginning.

TOOBIN: It...

S. O'BRIEN: As we like to say.

TOOBIN: The nomination is an hour and 10 minutes old.

S. O'BRIEN: We've got a long way to go.

TOOBIN: There you go.

S. O'BRIEN: Jeff Toobin. Thanks.  

Video Link

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.