Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Samuel Alito is a committed judicial conservative. Two reporters for Knight Ridder, the damned fine newspaper chain, came to that conclusion in an analysis piece, after poring over 311 Alito-penned opinions from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The obvious answer: Well, no duh. Is anyone surprised that the nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court is conservative?

But the Bush Administration doesn't want Alito cast in such a, um, truthful light. Knight Ridder now reports that the administration is "mounting an aggressive effort to counter" to counter the story:
Administration officials said the story unfairly cast the Supreme Court nominee as a conservative ideologue.

"His 15-year record on the 3rd Circuit shows him to be a mainstream, fair, thorough judge," Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand said in a C-SPAN interview devoted to her critique of the Knight Ridder analysis.

Brand, whose duties include shepherding judicial nominations through the Senate, rejected the conservative label for Alito.

"The term conservative means different things to different people. A judge is supposed to apply the law, not make it," she said.

John Nowacki, senior counsel in the Justice Department's Office of Public Affairs, also objected to the Knight Ridder analysis. In an e-mail to Henderson, Nowacki criticized attempts to discern a judicial philosophy by looking for trends in a judge's record.

"This outcome-based analysis is inapplicable and unfair to judges ... A judge's work cannot be divorced from the facts of particular cases," Nowacki wrote.
Quite the shame that Knight Ridder is apparently on the sales block, and Gannett is taking a "hard look" at the chain. Good for Gannett stockholders, bad for American newspapering.

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