Monday, January 09, 2006


I am sorry to see so many ill-informed comments on Judge Alito's decisions. The fundamental distinction between good judges and bad ones is whether they proceed by choosing the result they desire first and then chopping logic to get there (Scalia, Rehnquist), or by following careful legal reasoning to either the result required or the discretion that the law allows (Harlan, Frankfurter). In my reading of Alito's controversial decisions, he has consistently followed the latter approach. Even where the discretion he exercises is not what I might have chosen, I respect how he got there. Whether Alito now holds the personal views he held in the Reagan years is another matter. But even if he does, I do not see him as an idealogue. Many Supreme Court justices have changed over the years, and given Alito's temperament it seems likely that he comes from the "reality-based" community, and will grow more liberal over time as he considers the consequences of his decisions.

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