Game Plan (Part One)

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: August 4, 2008

Herb Lusk

Herb Lusk

PHILADELPHIA — As a collective entity, I think it’s fair to say we spend inordinate hours analyzing and deliberating over why we think team A will whip team B’s behind, especially during the favorite seasons of the individuals among our very eclectic staff.

Sometimes, the keys to victory are as subtle as a shot to the ribs; and sometimes they lie in waiting; like the second – stringer who knows the only reason he’s not starting is because the first – stringer’s dad is the coach.

The current leader of our country has been lampooned and labeled an idiot from Bangor to Bellingham, but I’m here to tell you, there’s something else in the mix.

While I know we straddle the political fence from time to time permit me this stretch as I elucidate on the most insidious, damaging and dare I say more ingenious of the after-shocks we will experience with the completion of the Bush era in the White House…

First Quarter: Samuel Alito & John Roberts

There has been much to question in this second term of George W. Bush.The war in Iraq, scandals involving members of his inner circle, cabinet and Congress, natural disasters — political and weather-borne — have enveloped the lame-duck resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his minions in a maelstrom of misanthropy.

But Marcia Greenberger says this “duck” has a lot to quack about. “President Bush has been steadfast in one mission since his first term — garnering more power for the executive branch of government by his manipulation of the Supreme Court.”

As co-President of the National Women’s Law Center, Greenberger warns the appointment of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supremes will rock the cradle of liberty into a somnambulistic slumber. “There are some very important issues in question because of Bush’s actions — and there must be major opposition to this appointment before the Senate.”

While the debacle surrounding the appointment of Harriet Miers smacked of comic relief to the public at large, there was nothing funny about Bush’s intentions. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who had publicly supported Miers’ nomination, said in a statement, “Conservative activists forced Miers to withdraw from consideration for this same Supreme Court seat because she was not radical enough for them.

“Now the Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people.” Typical of Democratic inaction throughout the Bush years, the appointment went without a vigorous challenge as Alito ascended.

Bush engaged and succeeded to stock the Court with a healthy supply of conservative muscle; in a sustained effort to eventually turn back the clock on historical decisions affecting life, liberty and, in the case of spying on American citizens — pursuit.

Into this accipitrine environment steps Judge Samuel Alito. Born in Trenton, New Jersey on April 1, 1950, Alito was formally nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bush on October 31, 2005. Alito’s confirmation would replace the departing Justice Sandra Day – O’Connor as an Associate Justice.

Formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Alito, who went to Princeton University and taught law at Seton Hall University, when questioned on his nomination, said “Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role the courts play in our constitutional system.”

By way of the vacancies provided by the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor and the death of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Bush replaced his most vital post on the high court with a former Rehnquist clerk, John Roberts.

Greenberger insists that should have been the wakeup call for America. “With this move, President Bush guarantees the executive body will have unique flexibility in translation of issues germane to a conservative, rightwing agenda — regardless of which party is in office — for the next 20 to 30 years, and we can sense a severe shift in the ‘checks-and-balances’ structure of our government to the presidency.”

To the conservative elite, the drums which had beaten for Alito were sweet music for hardcore conservatives like Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “I commend the President on the nomination and congratulate Sam Alito on this nomination.”

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was effusive in his praise of Bush’s selection by saying that Bush “has hit a home run by selecting Sam Alito.”

Locally, the promise of a pendulum swing to the right has sat very well with ex-Philadelphia Eagle fullback the Rev. Herbert Lusk. Lusk, pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church, says he has never met Alito, but says, “I trust the person who nominated him– George W. Bush. I believe the president is looking to respond to the voices and needs of the Christian right, and this (nomination) is another step in that direction.”

But Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) remained fearful this at-bat for the Bush administration may mean a strikeout for civil rights and a woman’s right to choose.

Kennedy, who helped Alito ascend to thethird U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in 1990, said his support for Alito then was “for a lower court nomination — and that 15 years of judicial rulings and opinions have changed his mind.”

In those 15 years, decisions by Alito have affected aspects of racial discrimination, sexual harassment and a woman’s right to choose.

For Michael Coard, Esq., this will set a dangerous precedent. “Alito has shown in many of his decisions that he strongly opposes racial quotas,” said Coard. “Given the fact there have been racial quotas since 1619, I sense a little hypocrisy in that premise.

“While some like to refer to him as ‘Scalito’ (in reference to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia) I refer to him as ‘Scalia Light’– ‘has all the reactionary jurisprudence, but half the judicial brazenness.’

“But what’s most alarming about Alito is his acknowledgement of questioning the timbre of many of the Warren (in reference to former Chief Justice Earl Warren) court decisions of the 1960s; specifically, Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436, 759– 1966) where the police practice of interrogating individuals without notifying them of their right to counsel was a violation of the Fifth Amendment).

“Alito seems to also have a problem with the Batson v. Kentucky case (476 U.S. 79, 84-6263-1986); in which prosecutorial use of peremptory challenges were used to deliberately keep Blacks off juries violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment.

“While Alito has the intellect, he has no substance whatsoever to hold a position like Associate Justice to the Supreme Court.”

Unlike Chief Justice Roberts, Alito does recall and acknowledges his long-standing membership (15 years) in the Federalist Society, a conservative-libertarian lawyers’ group. When applying for a job in 1985, Alito specifically cited federalism as a philosophy he shared and hoped to advance.

He also highlighted his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), a group that was openly hostile to the admission of minorities and women during his college years at Princeton, according to a New York Times article.

Alito also stated on the 1985 job application how he was proud of his contributions to the government’s attacks on affirmative action, co-authoring three briefs in the Solicitor General’s office which constituted part of that attack.

This, according to Deborah Leavy, consultant for People for the American Way and Pennsylvanians for a Fair & Independent Court is what lies at the base of Bush’s bellicosity. “I was chief counsel for Sen. Paul Simon during the (Judge Robert) Bork hearings,” relates Leavy. “What sunk Bork’s chances for the Supreme Court was in answering all of the questions asked.

“Now we fast forward to the Roberts hearings, and the right-wingers have done their homework. They saw the best way to react was to dodge the questions, and Roberts got in.

“(Sen. Arlen) Specter is in a good position to do this because he was a prosecutor — if he treats Alito as a witness, we may get some real answers as to whether he is worthy of the responsibility that comes with being a Supreme Court justice.”

But for all of Specter’s posturing, the Alito and Roberts’ appointments were successful from the word go. If director Oliver Stone’s premise in the film “JFK” is to be believed, then Specter did a better job deceiving Americans with his “magic bullet theory” than in speaking up for democracy in those appointment hearings.

Next time: Mister Roberts– and steroids.