This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the United States Supreme Court, voting to send it to the floor of the Senate for final confirmation.
These days is there is no other Senate committee I pay more attention to. First, two potential presidential candidates serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Second, the three senators I admire most serve on the committee. And third, this confirmation hearing (along with that of Chief Justice John Roberts) is the first I have been old enough and aware enough to observe.
On my first point, I would not be at all surprised to see either the name of Senator Joe Biden on a 2008 presidential ticket, neither would I be surprised to see the name of Sam Brownback. I would most likely welcome Biden's candidacy-- Brownback I will comment on in a moment.
Secondly, Senators Kennedy, Specter, and Leahy are three men that I greatly admire. I say this knowing that I will more than likely receive some heated words about Ted Kennedy. Specter and Kennedy in my mind embody a certain era of history that dominates a great deal of my intellectual time. I can't say I hold a great deal of respect for Ted Kennedy nor can I say I agree with Arlen Specter even 50% of the time, but I can say these two men are public servants who define what it means to be a senator. Patrick Leahy has been a favorite of mine since well before Vice President Cheney had some chosen words on the Senate floor. Ideologically Leahy and I are in the same boat. I admire his tenacity and his no nonsense approach. There is something about politicians from Vermont that just amazes me. They don't seem to care what the other 49 states think of them.
Watching these men over the last several months has been an opportunity I won't soon forget.
I in no way, shape, or form want to see Sam Alito on the Court, but I'm not going to pick apart Mr. Alito. Tonight I would rather pick apart Sam Brownback because he made a statement today before the vote that really got under my skin.
Abortion has nothing to do with how I feel about Sam Alito. I do however have take issue with Brownback's comments. And I do support all legislation that protects a woman's right to choose. There are privacy factors that I support. There are women I support. In his closing remarks today Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) said that 90% of Down's Syndrome babies are aborted. 90% is an entire "class of people." I guess his argument was about abortion and how Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but let me say this:
Mr. Brownback, you don't support reform of either Medicaid or Medicare and you don't support stem cell research. Should we be bringing 90% of a population into this world if you don't want to pass legislation to support them??
Please do not get me wrong, I am not in favor of abortion 90% of the Down's Syndrome population, but I certainly am in favor of reforming Medicaid and Medicare so we can adequately provide for that population. I am also strongly in favor of stem cell research that could potentially prevent the diseases that often cause early death in the Down's population.
With a straight party line vote Samuel Alito will be our next Supreme Court associate justice, replacing one of my personal favorites, Sandra Day O'Connor. We all better be praying that a few Republicans have a change of heart soon. What? Democrats pray? Watch out you evangelical Republicans, we're all on our knees today!
For those of you interested, the vote was a straight partyline vote (10-8). Those in favor of Alito included Specter, Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, DeWine, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, Brownback, and Coburn. Those opposed to the confirmation included Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Feingold, Schumer, and Durbin. And as those 8 senators said no, I had chills.