Monday, January 16, 2006

Scalito Skating Onto SCOTUS

I keep meaning to mention this. Why don't the Senators on the Judiciary Committee use their staff to ask questions?

None of them could cross examine themselves out of a paper bag. They're lucky to get a question or two in during their long, bloviating soliloquies.

Now, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to examine a witness. But there are certain, simple rules.

Like, don't start out by saying "Just a few questions", when you're going to be up there for an hour.

Or don't trivialize your questions before you ask them by making only-funny-to-you self-deprecating statements (like this: BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I understand, Judge, I'm the only one standing between you and lunch, so I'll try to make this painless.)

This applies to all the Senators, not just Joe Biden (D-MBNA). But Biden was certainly the worst offender. Here's another little Biden gem:

[] But again, this is just by way of why some of us are puzzled. Because if I was aware of it, and I didn't even like Princeton...


I mean, I really didn't like Princeton. I was an Irish Catholic kid who thought it had not changed like you concluded it had.

I admit, one of my real dilemmas is I have two kids who went to Ivy League schools. I'm not sure my Grandfather Finnegan will ever forgive me for allowing that to happen.

But all kidding aside, I wasn't a big Princeton fan. And so maybe that is why I focused on it and no one else did. But I remember it at the time.

If you want your audience to take you seriously, be serious. Don't make stupid jokes. Is this a serious proceeding or not? Does a doctor make jokes in the middle of informing you about the medical condition of a loved one? Of course not. That would be inappropriate to the occasion. Biden's inability to stay on topic was incredibly annoying.

Also incredibly annoying, his/their habit of stating glowing conclusions about Alito's opinions and motives BEFORE asking questions in those very areas. Like this:

BIDEN: I don't think anybody thinks you are a man lacking in integrity. I don't think anybody thinks that you are a person who's not independent.


So again, I'm not questioning your commitment to civil rights. What I do wonder about is, whether or not -- it's presumptuous of me to say this -- whether you fully appreciate how discrimination does work today.

Why bother questioning someone about their opinions on discrimination when you preface it like this:

I know you want to eliminate discrimination.
Explain to me how that test is distinguishable from just plain old discrimination.

Well, why are we bothering to have these hearings if we "know" Scalito wants to eliminate discrimination? Isn't the reason we're here is that most of us Democrats believe, since he almost always rules against discrimination victims, that he's against the very concept of anti-discrimination law? As an employment lawyer, that's one of the reasons I don't want this jamoke on the Court. He's got his finger on the scale on the side of the employer.

Bring back the questioning by staff. Where is our Sam Dash, our Arthur Liman?

Tomorrow I'm calling my Senators and asking them to filibuster. Call yours.

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