Alito Would Bring Judicial Restraint to the Bench

Now that the Senate has begun consideration of Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the US Supreme Court, the American public would do well to use this as an opportunity to consider the role of the judiciary in our society and the need for judges that will faithfully apply our Constitution, rather than make law from the bench.

Currently, the opposition to Judge Alito is doing everything possible to distort his record and incite fear among the American public. Some opponents are suggesting that he is anti-civil rights and anti-minority. They have said that he is opposed to the principle of "one man, one vote" and and that he is a religious radical. In short, that he is an extremist.

The facts fly in the face of these wild accusations. Judge Alito is eminently qualified for service on the Supreme Court. In fact, he has more judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in over 70 years, and has received unanimous confirmation from the US Senate on two previous occasions. Not something you would expect of an "extremist".

Some of his opponents have suggested that he would be the swing vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This is patently untrue. Six of the currently sitting Justices, five if you subtract the retiring O'Connor, have previously voted to uphold Roe. Only two have openly voted to overturn the decision. The truth is that the misleading abortion rhetoric is actually less about Roe and more about the views of those who wish to keep the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion legal, right up until the moment of birth. On this Issue, Alito could well be a deciding vote.

Congress has acted on this issue twice, most recently with the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, signed by President Bush in 2003. Each time, the majorities in favor of such a ban were high and bipartisan. The President has referred to the gruesome procedure as "violence against those inches from birth". There is no other way to describe it. Even now, the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to review a lower court ruling that blocked enforcement of that legislation.

The primary source of opposition to Alito and other conservative jurists is the fact that liberals have sought to use the judiciary as a venue to advance their policy agenda for the past several generations. Any judge who opposes such usurpation of the Constitution or breach of the separation of powers poses a threat to their continued success.

Judge Alito has a proven track record as a judge that applies the law and the constitution, rather than trying to rewrite or reinterpret them. In his Senate questionnaire, Judge Alito wrote that "the federal courts must engage in a constant process of self-discipline to ensure that they respect the limits of their authority". Hardly an opinion you could label as "out of the mainstream".

Further, in his time on the bench he has demonstrated a sympathetic ear for issues involving religious expression as well as the symbols of religion. In light of the judiciary's near outright hostility to religion, this would be a welcome addition to the high court.

For all of the talk of "mainstream", it would seem Judge Alito is decidedly so, while those who oppose him have demonstrated themselves to be decidedly "un-mainstream" when it comes to being in line with the majority of American public opinion. Every major poll conducted since his nomination has indicated that far more voters are of the opinion that Judge Alito should be confirmed than those who think otherwise.

Whether we like it or not, the judiciary has set itself up as the pivot point in our country on issues such as same-sex marriage, religious expression, parental rights, abortion - even the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and our national motto, "In God We Trust". It was not meant to be so.

In recent elections the American people have spoken loud and clear in favor of judicial restraint - as well as for fair up or down votes for all judicial nominees. This was one of the cornerstones of President Bush's campaigns, as well as of many of the members of the current Senate majority. In fact, it could be well said that the issue of judicial restraint is greatly responsible for the existence of that majority. They should keep this in mind when the time comes to put down any efforts at obstruction.

What we need - and what Judge Alito represents - are judges that recognize and honor their proper constitutional role; who will apply and interpret the Constitution and our laws as written and not take it upon themselves to amend them via interpretation. With such judges, the issue of personal views or labels of "liberal" or "conservative" become irrelevant. This is how it should be.


Roberta Combs is President of the Christian Coalition of America and has been active in conservative politics for over twenty-five years. She has represented the Coalition on numerous television news programs and has been quoted in major national newspapers, magazines and international publications.

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