Stuff I think you should know

Thursday, January 26, 2006

From Senator Joe Lieberman

Today I announced my decision to vote "no" on the nomination of Samuel Alito to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I'd like to take this opportunity to explain to you why I made this decision.

As you know, the US Supreme Court, as a body, holds a uniquely powerful and autonomous role in our system of government; as the highest court in the land, it is the ultimate arbiter of many decisions which affect the lives of every American citizen. Because decisions made at the Supreme Court level have altered the course of American history, its impact on our great nation is immeasurable, and lasting.

That power, combined with the fact that individuals who are chosen to sit on the Court serve for life, makes the decision as to how one will vote on a Supreme Court nominee one of the most awesome responsibilities I, as one of your United States senators, can ever face.

At the core of our great nation is a belief in personal freedom and equal opportunity for all Americans. Those are the principles upon which this nation was founded, and has thrived. They define who we are, what we stand for, what we believe in, and what countless men and women have died protecting since before we even became a sovereign nation.

While I respect Judge Alito's intellect and ability, and his experience, it is his judicial philosophy regarding those freedoms and opportunities that I question.

As a judge, he has issued more than 350 opinions over 15 years. As a government attorney in the 1980s, he made numerous personal statements regarding his philosophy. In reviewing that body of evidence, it is clear to me that while Judge Alito may have the intellect and experience necessary to be a Supreme Court Justice, he might not protect and defend those freedoms and opportunities.

As a Supreme Court Justice, that would be, in a word, unacceptable. We, as a people and as a nation, have come too far to turn back the clock. A woman's right to choose, for example, grounded in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, is settled law. I don't believe Judge Alito agrees with that, nor am I confident he would vote in a manner consistent with respecting that precedent.

As well, in civil rights cases, Judge Alito has repeatedly established an unusually high bar, I think too high a bar, for entrance to our courts for people who believed they've been denied equal opportunity and fair treatment based on race or gender.

As a society, we should always be looking to move forward, to become a "better people," and to set an example for the rest of the world. We tell the rest of the world every day that our nation is unique; we do that, in part, because in the United States of America, personal freedom and equal opportunity are rights for everyone, not privileges for the few.

It is in that spirit that I said "no" to Judge Alito, and "yes" to the American people.

Thank you for your continued friendship and support.

Senator Joe Lieberman


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