Cato Legal Scholar: Alito is Well Qualified to Serve on High Court

January 4, 2006

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WASHINGTON - Cato Institute legal experts, Roger Pilon and Mark Moller, are available to discuss the nomination hearings for Judge Samuel Alito.

Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs, founder and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies. Pilon held senior posts at the Department of Justice and the State Department during the Reagan administration:

“Based on his record, Judge Alito is extremely well qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court. In less contested times he would be easily confirmed. But today the nation is deeply divided, not only on hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, and gay rights but on the very meaning of the Constitution. With government at every level reaching virtually every area of life, it is important for us to have at least a general sense of Judge Alito’s views on these issues.

“In probing the issues, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee must not expect Judge Alito, as a condition of confirmation, to compromise his independence as a future justice. The distinction between politics and law must be respected. In that regard, there is no way to avoid fine lines, about which reasonable people can disagree. Nevertheless, the general lines of Judge Alito’s thinking should be explored. What are his general views on the limits of federal power? What are his thoughts on how the Civil War amendments changed federalism in the nation? What is the role of the Court in protecting unenumerated rights? What are the factors to be weighed in considering whether to overturn precedents? How does he view the respective powers of the three branches in foreign affairs? In the end, what we want most to know is his understanding of the Constitution.”

Alito and Abortion,” by Roger Pilon. The Wall Street Journal, November, 28, 2005.

What to Look for in the Alito Hearings,” Capitol Hill briefing. Wednesday, December 7, 2005.

How Constitutional Corruption Has Led to Ideological Litmus Tests for Judicial Nominees,” by Roger Pilon. Cato Policy Analysis no. 446, August 8, 2002.

Mark Moller, editor of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Moller was a member of the legal team that successfully litigated Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court in 2000.

“Democratic strategists promise Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings will be a three-ring political circus, in which his position on election year hot button issues, like abortion, will be under the microscope. Let’s hope they are wrong. Judge Alito can’t be everything to all Senators. We shouldn’t ask him to be. We should ask that he respect the rule of law, deciding cases without bias based on the best arguments — just the sort of approach his record to date suggests. To be sure, no judge is perfect and Alito isn’t beyond reproach. Some of his past positions on property rights and the Due Process Clause are troublesome. Even so, a fair process demands honest debate, not political posturing, followed by an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.”

Two Cheers for Sandra Day O’Connor,” by Mark Moller. Orange County Register, July 3, 2005.

Selecting Supreme Court Justices: A Dialogue,” ABA Focus on Law Studies, June 1, 2005.