Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito's "Conflicting" Testimonials

When I saw a story in the LA Times last night, which presented a shinier, more respectable side of Sam Alito, I thought, maybe, just maybe this guy isn't quite the right wing, crony-centric, governement yes-man that many think he is. But that story came out after another story appeared that indicated some rather radical liberal thoughts possessed by Alito in his nascent career of opinionating during his college days. Portraying Alito as not all hard-core right winger seemed the order of the day.

Initially, I was not suspect of this until yet another story appeared offering up an entirely unflattering view of a serious conflict of interest Alito engaged in while judging a case involving Vaguard Mutual Fund Co., a case he should have recused himself from since he owned almost $400K in Vanguard funds. Earlier, he had promised, generally, to recuse himself of cases involving Vanguard given the obvious conflict of interest but in this case he refused to do so and went on to rule in favour of the that company.

After the LAT story reported that a spectrum of "left-leaning" collegues view Alito as a stand-up guy and that, "he didn't decide cases based on ideology" and that "he is not an ideologue," I was starting to second guess the initial reaction by lefties. But the Vanguard story quotes the plaintiff's lawyer in the case, who said that Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court should be sunk because his "lack of integrity is so flagrant." Whatever the details of the case, the fact is that Alito filled out and signed a questionairre whereon he specifically stated, "I would, however, disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies." I don't believe that Alito's decision about a few hundred grand in Vanguard mutual funds had much, if any, effect on the value of his personal retirement portfolio but for god's sakes, why don't these guys do what they say they will do? It would make everything so much simpler. Because now you have to wonder, well, is there something else going on?

These reports, however, are not necessarily contradictory. In fact, the stories may actually be reinforcing and supporting evidence of the same character. Even though they may sound like conflicting portraits, I don't see that lacking integrity and not being an idealogue are necessarily mutually exclusive. In other words, hey, why not be both?

Personally, I would be more concerned about the conflict of interest issue because that does cast serious doubt on the "judgement" of Alito. If a judge cannot see the obvious problem there and, while it may not direct his decision, its appearance at least taints it, then we've got another ... Antonin Scalia.

This harks back to that duck-hunting Supreme Court dipshit, when he couldn't possibly see how going on a hunting trip with a defendent -- Dick Freaking Cheney -- whose case was before the Supreme Court, could possibly be construed as a conflict of interest.

It won't be long before the Supremes are going on luxury cruises with not only the White House but, hell, Halliburton and Vanguard too. Then all this fractious business between those "independent" branches of government will wind up being smoothed out in a much more amiable manner, like over cocktails and shooting clay -- shit, real and the more endangered the better -- pigeons off the back of the lido deck. Of even maybe a few country barbeques over at Dick's house on the Eastern shore.


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