Deliberations on the Alito hearings


Re “Alito Tells Skeptical Democrats He Would Keep an Open Mind,” Jan. 11

Listening to Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s confirmation hearings, I find it hard to reconcile the centrist views of his testimony with the hard-right tenor of the paper trail he long ago began accumulating as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration.

I have also listened attentively to his explanations of controversial positions he took as an appellate judge in case after case. Even when Alito was the lone dissenter, as he often seemed to be, his answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding those extremely conservative opinions seemed designed to ward off the merest suggestion that he is, in fact, anything but Sandra Day O’Connor’s rightful heir to the swing seat on the Supreme Court.

This split-screen effect is profoundly disturbing, not just because it leads me to question the judge’s sincerity but because the president who nominated him could scarcely be described as a centrist. George W. Bush promised justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. He never promised us another O’Connor.



Santa Monica


Re “The Alito testimony you won’t hear,” Opinion, Jan. 11

Hell hath no fury like a whiney fringe partisan scorned. While Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) often represents voices on the leftmost fringe of partisan clap-trappery, he was wise to scratch Stephen R. Dujack from the list [of witnesses to testify at the Alito hearings]. The ridiculous nature of Dujack’s absurd testimony that wasn’t to be would have made the more reasonable partisan opposition to Alito look foolish by association.

Thus, by willingly stepping in and attempting to resuscitate Dujack’s ego, The Times has compromised its own credibility and judgment.

To stop the slide, I offer you the following suggestion: Next time the editors are tempted to offer The Times’ distinguished forum to such pedestrian smear attempts, perhaps you should just offer the benevolent writer a bullhorn, and everyone on the editorial board who sympathizes can follow him to the street corner.


Roseville, Calif.


Re “Judging Judge Alito,” editorial, Jan. 9

So-called conservatives and strict constructionists think that a wartime president is above the law. Alito has advocated “presidential signing statements” as a way of ignoring laws. This alone should disqualify him from the Supreme Court. The Constitution clearly states that when Congress sends a bill to the president, it must be either signed or vetoed, just as it gives the power to declare war only to Congress, which it has not done. President Bush has refused so far to veto any bill sent to him by his Republican Congress, and he has no constitutional authority to amend a law unilaterally with a “statement.”