LA Times Offers Different, More Moderate View of Judge Alito

While the mainstream media have focused attention on President Bush’s new Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito being an extreme Conservative (as reported by NewsBusters here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), David G. Savage and Henry Weinstein of the Los Angeles Times actually did some real investigative journalism, and identified that people who have worked with Alito don’t agree with this right-wing depiction:

“Samuel A. Alito Jr. was quickly branded a hard-core conservative after President Bush announced his nomination, but a surprising number of liberal-leaning judges and ex-clerks say they support his elevation to the Supreme Court.

"Those who have worked alongside him say he was neither an ideologue nor a judge with an agenda, conservative or otherwise. They caution against attaching a label to Alito.”

Savage and Weinstein continued by citing and/or quoting a list of colleagues’ opinions on this issue:

  • “Kate Pringle, a New York lawyer who worked last year on Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign, describes herself as a left-leaning Democrat and a big fan of Alito's.” “‘He was not, in my personal experience, an ideologue. He pays attention to the facts of cases and applies the law in a careful way. He is conservative in that sense; his opinions don't demonstrate an ideological slant,’ she said.”

  • “Jeff Wasserstein, a Washington lawyer who clerked for Alito in 1998, echoes her view. ‘I am a Democrat who always voted Democratic, except when I vote for a Green candidate — but Judge Alito was not interested in the ideology of his clerks,’ he said. ‘He didn't decide cases based on ideology, and his record was not extremely conservative.’"

  • “The late [Judge A. Leon] Higginbotham, Jr. a legendary liberal and a scholar of U.S. racial history, was the only other black judge on the Philadelphia-based court at the time. [He apparently said of Alito]: Sam Alito is my favorite judge to sit with on this court. He is a wonderful judge and a terrific human being. Sam Alito is my kind of conservative. He is intellectually honest. He doesn't have an agenda. He is not an ideologue."

  • Judge Timothy K. Lewis of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said: “‘Alito does not have an agenda, contrary to what the Republican right is saying about him being a 'home run.' He is not result-oriented. He is an honest conservative judge who believes in judicial restraint and judicial deference.’”

  • “Judge Edward R. Becker, former chief judge of the 3rd Circuit, said he also was surprised to see Alito labeled as a reliable conservative. ‘I found him to be a guy who approached every case with an open mind. I never found him to have an agenda," he said. "I suppose the best example of that is in the area of criminal procedure. He was a former U.S. attorney, but he never came to a case with a bias in favor of the prosecution. If there was an error in the trial, or a flawed search, he would vote to reverse,’ Becker said.”

  • “Clark Lombardi, now a law professor at the University of Washington, became a clerk for Alito in 1999. ‘I grew up in New York City, and I'm a political independent. But I liked Judge Alito because he was a judicial conservative, someone who believed in judicial restraint and was committed to textualism,’ he said. ‘His approach leads to conservative results in some cases and progressive results in other cases. In my opinion, he is a fantastic jurist and a good guy.’"

Fascinating. Imagine actually asking the opinions of colleagues who have worked with and know the proclivities of a judicial nominee rather than political leaders or heads of political action groups that have never met with or spoken to the individual.

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