Empty Chairs and Empty Suits
As distinguished jurist after distinguished jurist testified on behalf of Judge Alito, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee first visibly buckled, their faces’ falling, and then simply fled. Perhaps it was Judge Aldisert’s resume –a campaign worker for Jack Kennedy in West Virginia, an LBJ appointee supported by Bobby Kennedy when RFK was senator from New York– that prompted Teddy to flee, or the patient, sincere, steady rumble of a barely concealed outrage from across the long panel of judges at the treatment their obviously deeply respected colleague had received at the hands of the Senate Democrats that routed Schumer, Durbin and even Leahy. But whatever the reason, all that blather about judicial independence and ethics melted away in the rain of approval from Judge Alito’s robed colleagues.
A blow-by-blow on the judges’ panel is over at Bench Memos, and is wonderful to read.
Judges Aldisert and Garth are old lions of the bench, and though moving slowly, are still very clearly in command of their very great abilities. And whatever their words, their message was twofold: Great respect for Sam Alito, and contempt for the partisan hit squad that had attempted, unsuccessfully, to smear him.
It was a fine moment for the federal judiciary, and a great encore for two jurists who have served long and honorably.