NewsHour: Analysts Discuss Second Day of Alito Hearings – January 10, 2006

RAY SUAREZ: We are now joined by two court watchers who have been following these hearings closely: Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor at the New Republic, and Stuart Taylor, a columnist with National Journal and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

And Stuart, Judge Alito was in the hot seat for upwards of seven hours. They covered a great many subjects during this first day of questioning. Looking at the arc of the day, how did he do?

STUART TAYLOR: Given the rather arcane rules of this game– and it is sort of a game– I thought he had a pretty strong day after a little bit of a weak opening statement yesterday beginning with the joke that fell flat.

But today he managed to duck the questions he needed to duck. He gave very reassuring answers to the questions that people were worried about. You know: yes, I respect precedent. I would have an open mind about Roe v. Wade; I believe in the right to privacy; I believe in the right to contraception, Griswold v. Connecticut. The president is not above the law. I agree with Justice O’Connor when she said a state of war is not a blank check for the executive when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens. The one person/one vote principle is a fundamental part of American law.

So these are all areas where he previously said things that shook some people up, and he to some extent took the sting out of a lot of those. And with the help of Republican senators, he gave some counter examples to the claims that have been made that he very rarely rules in favor of a civil rights plaintiff or a race discrimination complaint.

This isn’t to say that he has no problems, but going in the idea was that he would be confirmed unless he stumbled. I didn’t see him stumble.

RAY SUAREZ: Professor Rosen.