More on Alito

Here are some questions that should be asked of Judge Alito.

The first kind asks for answers that offer a sense of a nominee’s thinking without committing that nominee to any future rulings. For instance:

Everyone seems to agree it’s wrong for judges to “legislate from the bench.” Give us two or three examples from the court’s past where, in your view, the court legislated from the bench.

Name two or three justices from the past whom you do not admire. Why not?

The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration of certain rights [in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights] should not be held to disparage other rights… .” What does this mean?

Justice Scalia says that the court was wrong 80 years ago, when it began to apply the Bill of Rights to the states. Do you agree?

If a punishment — say, branding or flogging — was widely accepted at the time the Bill of Rights was written, could it be considered “cruel and unusual” today?

The second type of questions would give us a much broader sense of how a nominee thinks. For instance:

Favorite Beatle? (Paul means a right-brain view of things, John, a left-brain view. Ringo means outside the mainstream.)

Do you support the designated-hitter rule? (Yes means a pro-labor, pro-federalist outlook — different rules for different leagues.)

Beer or wine? (populist vs. elitist)

Marital exception — Halle Berry or Diane Lane? (Other answers acceptable, of course.)

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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