Alito’s Credibility Problem

Senator Edward M. Kennedy on Alito’s credibility problem:

Every Supreme Court nominee bears a heavy burden to demonstrate that he or she is committed to the constitutional principles that have been vital in advancing fairness, decency and equal opportunity in our society. As Judge Samuel Alito approaches his confirmation hearings next week, the more we learn about him, the more questions we have about the credibility of his assurances to us.

Alito was 35 when he applied for an important political position with Attorney General Ed Meese during the Reagan administration. Alito sought to demonstrate his “philosophical commitment” to Meese’s legal outlook….

The views expressed there raise serious concerns about his ability to interpret the Constitution with a fair and open mind. When this embarrassing document came to light, he faced a difficult decision on whether to defend his 1985 views or walk away from them. When I and others met him a short time later, he appeared to be renouncing them — “I was just a 35-year-old seeking a job,” he told me. But now he’s seeking another, far more important job. Is he saying that he did not really mean what he said then?

In 1990, during the confirmation process on his nomination to the 3rd Circuit, Alito disclosed that his largest investment was in Vanguard mutual funds. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, he promised us that he would recuse himself from any case involving “the Vanguard companies.” Vanguard continues to be on his recusal list, and his investments in Vanguard funds have risen from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, in 2002 he failed to recuse himself when assigned to sit on a case in which three Vanguard companies were named parties and listed prominently on every brief and on his own pro-Vanguard opinion in the case.

Alito’s words and record must credibly demonstrate that he understands and supports the role of the Supreme Court in upholding the progress we’ve made in guaranteeing that all Americans have an equal chance to take their rightful place in the nation’s future. “Credibility” has rarely been an issue for Supreme Court nominees, but it is clearly a major issue for Alito.