Not unlike the American public at large, Boalt professors are closely monitoring Supreme Court nominee U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit Judge Samuel Alito. Here are a few highlights of their contributions to the debate:
In a November 27 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, “Life and Death and Samuel Alito,” Professor Goodwin Liu provides in-depth analysis of Alito’s history with capital punishment, a subject Liu believes has been preempted by speculation about the nominee’s position on abortion. Liu concludes, “At a time when America’s commitment to due process of law is being closely scrutinized at home and abroad, Alito’s record on capital punishment raises serious concerns. It deserves careful attention from the Senate and the American people as a measure of his capacity to interpret the law in pursuit of impartial, humane and equal justice.” Liu is also quoted in a November Time Magazine article, “How Alito Looks Under the Lens”.
Professor John Yoo contributed a November 6 op-ed article to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Alito brings qualifications, not conservative tilt, to court,” outlining the current balance of the Court and predicting the impact Alito’s appointment would make. Yoo’s conclusion: “It is not even clear at this point that Alito shares the conservative judicial philosophy of Scalia or Thomas. At present, he appears to resemble John Roberts more than anyone: a modest, careful craftsman of the law, rather than a revolutionary or visionary. Conservatives who want to fundamentally change the direction of the Supreme Court and constitutional law will have to wait for yet another retirement before they have their chance.”
Professor Jesse Choper was quoted in The New York Times in a November article discussing Alito’s “libertarian streak” of vigorously defending free speech. Of the “new breed of conservative libertarian judges,” Choper said they tend to be very protective of speech rights when they involve the marketplace of ideas, or the core of the First Amendment.