Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito v. Luttig

Conservative Ponders Other Possibility for High Court Pick
Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 3, 2005, at 7

In the days leading up to Judge [Samuel] Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, the press was reporting that the White House had narrowed down the list to two possibilities. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that "President Bush will announce another Supreme Court nominee within days, and he appears to have narrowed the field to conservative federal appeals court judges Samuel A. Alito Jr. and J. Michael Luttig."

Though both were on every conservative's shortlist to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, some were disappointed that Luttig had once again been passed over. I speculate that the reason for that may have been Luttig's close personal friendship with those justices that the left most despises.

Though both judges are deemed to be in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Alito was not actually "tainted" by his association with these justices. Luttig was not only a former clerk to Scalia when he was a judge on the D.C. Circuit, but was in the Justice Department and charged with getting Thomas (as well as Justice David Souter) through his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Some had even objected to the fact that after his confirmation to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he deferred taking the bench until Thomas had been confirmed.

His friendship to these two justices was close enough that when the death penalty case of Napoleon Beasly reached the Supreme Court, Scalia and Thomas (along with Souter) recused themselves. Beasly was convicted of murdering Luttig's father and has since been executed (since then the Supreme Court has banned the execution of juvenile offenders).

I gather some of us conservatives, though thrilled with Alito's nomination, would have rather seen Luttig appointed, but I don't know how much of that is just the desire to see Scalia serve with his former clerk - something akin to Mr. Miyagi fighting along side Daniel-son.