Alito’s Opening Statement: In His Own Words (and mine)

“The best part is when I used ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ as a punchline. Read the whole thing!”

Alito’s Statement:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am deeply honored to appear before you.
I am deeply honored to have been nominated for a position on the Supreme Court. And I an humbled to have been nominated for the seat that is now held by Justice O’Connor, particularly since I intend to roll back many of the gains in civil rights and liberties she championed for Americans.

Justice O’Connor has been a pioneer, and her dedicated service on the Supreme Court will never be forgotten although by the time me, and Roberts are done, the court will be all but unrecognizable. And the people of the country certainly owe her a great debt for the service that she has provided.

“The story goes as follows.
This was a lawyer who had never argued a case before the court before. And when the argument began, one of the justices said, “How did you get here?,” meaning how had his case worked its way up through the court system. But the lawyer was rather nervous and he took the question literally and he said — and this was some years ago — he said, “I came here on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.”

This story has come to my mind in recent weeks because I have often asked myself, “How in the world did I get here?” And I want to try to answer that today and not by saying that I came here on I-95 or on Amtrak. I’m here because I have absolutely no moral, ethical or jurisprudential problem in arguing for the absolutely unfettered powers of the Executive branch.

And after I graduated from high school, I went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world when I entered Princeton University. A generation earlier, I think that somebody from my background probably would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like Princeton, since it was a bastion of WASPy racism and classism. But, by the time I graduated from high school, things had changed. The goddamn hippies were taking drugs in the streets. Many, clearly, did not bathe often.

And this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. Both college and law school opened up new worlds of ideas- new worlds to destroy. But this was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when hippies walked the earth. Did I mention the hippies?

It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. We even had to shoot some of the hippies, it got so bad. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. They took drugs. They protested U.S. involvement in VietNam. They publicly questioned the decisions of our elected leaders.

And I couldn’t help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community. The Yale WASPs I had admired- and aspired to emulate- turned out to be hippies themselves. Goddamn hippies! Needless to say, this was very disconcerting. They sensed my disapprobation, and they stopped inviting me to their parties- parties awash in alcoholic liquors and ahaze with the smoke of marijuana.

I believe casual, pre-marital sex was the frequent result of these unsupervised parties.

And, of course, I have been shaped for the last 15 years by my experiences as a judge of the court of appeals.
During that time, I have sat on thousands of cases — somebody mentioned the exact figure this morning; I don’t know what the exact figure is, but it is way up into the thousands — and I have written hundreds of opinions.
And the members of this committee and the members of their staff, who have had the job of reviewing all of those opinions, really have my sympathy.


I think that may have constituted cruel and unusual punishment.


(Editorial aside: What the fuck? Are Bush’s writers now writing Alito’s material too? Joking about cruel and unusual punishment is unseemly coming from the President- it’s just plain crass and tone deaf coming from a Supreme Court nominee whom will undoubtedly hear cases regarding cruel and unusual punishment. Particularly one whom Bush lauded just this morning as having “dignity” and “class.” That’s right- it’s not the 8th Amendment- it’s a punchline!)

And that’s my story. That’s the story of how a poor, second-generation Italian-American went from the margins of society to the heights of WASPdom at Princeton and from there to the altogether more dizzying (prescription-only) heights of hypocrisy and casual brutality to which only Republicans may aspire.

Thank you.”

3 Comments so far

  1. bassoholic (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    Nikkos – your posts are typically humourous, but this one had me laughing out loud. starting with the picture!

  2. nikkos (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 4:47 pm


    That pic is Reuters photo from this morning’s hearings which I did not alter in any way. That’s how they shot it- cropped tight and with that creepy sideways glance.

    Glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. nikkos (unregistered) on January 10th, 2006 @ 9:31 am

    Seems like I’m not the only one having fun with his opening statement- but I did post first!

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.