Political Editors / February 15, 2016

Senator Obama’s Supreme Court Philosophy

Is probably quite a bit different from that of today’s Obama.

Before reviewing what Barack Obama said during Justice Samuel Alito’s confirmation process in 2007, there are two big caveats: First, he’s president now, not just a senator, and as a result his views come from another angle. Second, Democrats (and Donald Trump) can never be held, by their standards, to what they said yesterday, much less eight years ago under opposite political circumstances.

Obama in 2007:

> As we all know, there’s been a lot of discussion in the country about how the Senate should approach this confirmation process. There are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and an all-around nice guy. That once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question whether the judge should be confirmed.

> I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record. And when I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Samuel Alito, I’m deeply troubled.

> I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training and qualifications necessary to serve. He’s an intelligent man and an accomplished jurist. And there’s no indication he’s not a man of great character.

> But when you look at his record — when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding American’s individual rights.

No doubt Obama would now disavow this opinion, subscribing instead to the view that the Senate has a duty to affirm whatever choice he makes. If they don’t, they’re mean-spirited partisans who are abdicating their constitutional duty. Or something.

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