Statement On the Confirmation of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court
In voting to confirm Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, 58 members of the Senate have signaled their acquiescence in the steady accumulation of power by the President who appointed him. Based on his extensive record of extreme deference to the executive branch, Justice Alito can be expected to ratify many of the virtually unchecked powers that President Bush has claimed since 9/11, from arbitrary detention to warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
His record in these matters presents a stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Justice O'Connor. In 2004, when the Supreme Court heard a suit by a U.S. citizen whom the President had labeled an "enemy combatant," Justice O'Connor declared for a plurality of the Court that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." There is nothing in Justice Alito's background to suggest that he will take a similar stand when the time comes.
The contrast with Justice O'Connor is equally pronounced on other issues on which Justice Alito may now cast the deciding vote, from the constitutional right to privacy to the power of Congress to protect the health and welfare of the American people.
All of these are subjects on which Justice O'Connor, a pragmatic, mainstream conservative, played a pivotal and stabilizing role on the Court. She will be sorely missed.