Like many Americans, I have spent a good portion of the past few days observing, reading about, and discussing the Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito for the position of Supreme Court justice. And, like many Americans, I have been very disturbed by what I have seen.
The position of Supreme Court justice is a unique one in our nation's governmental structure. In no other position is one guaranteed a virtually unfettered lifetime appointment, almost totally free of any of the usual restraints that accompany political office. A Supreme Court justice, provided he or she does not allow his or her behavior to venture into the realm of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors - something that has never happened in the 217 years of the republic - can rest assured that he or she will be in a position of profound influence and power for the rest of his or her life.
Unfortunately, the current nominee has demonstrated none of those. During the course of his confirmation hearings, Judge Alito refused to be pinned down about his views on several critical matters, including a woman's right to choose, and the power of the Executive Branch. He simply insisted that he will keep "an open mind" with regard to all matters brought before him as a Supreme Court justice. He said that all one need do to determine what kind of Supreme Court justice he will be, is to examine his record as an appellate court judge. I have no doubt that at his confirmation hearings prior to being named to the appellate court, that Judge Alito made the same representation about keeping "an open mind."
Samuel Alito's record as an appellate court judge for the past 15 years is rife with opinions which demonstrate beyond any doubt that - contrary to what your colleagues on the other side of the aisle would like to have the American public believe - he does not hold the lives, liberty, health or happiness of Americans in any kind of esteem. In fact, as his record clearly demonstrates, his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, if allowed to prevail, would turn this country into exactly the kind of plutocracy our Founding Fathers sought to overthrow when they signed the Declaration of Independence.
Fortunately for those living in the jurisdiction of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, his colleagues on the bench have seen fit to overrule him in the vast majority of cases. This fact alone demonstrates that Judge Alito - again, contrary to what your colleagues on the other side of the aisle would like to have the American public believe - does not represent the mainstream of American legal thought; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Judge Alito's legal view is a pernicious one which favors the power of corporations and other large institutions (including the Presidency) over the rights of individual Americans.
The seminal document in the history of our great nation, the one which made all others possible, is the Declaration of Independence. In it, the Founding Fathers declared certain truths to be self-evident. Among those truths, they wrote, is the truth that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Well, Senator Feinstein, I do not consent. I do not consent, at this truly pivotal moment in our nation's history, when our very liberties are threatened by those who would steal them under color of authority - the very authority that is supposed to derive from the consent of the governed - I do not consent to the abrogation of those liberties.
And you, as a senator, must not consent, either. The Constitution provides that the President may only appoint Supreme Court justices "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate". You have the power - indeed, the responsibility in this case - to prevent the highest legal authority in this nation from becoming a willing conspirator in the plundering of those liberties for which so many Americans have fought and died over so many years.
Three times, I have voted to entrust you with the responsibility to represent my interests in the United States Senate. Your choice on this nomination is without a doubt the most important one that you have been entrusted with so far. For the good of myself, my family, and the good of all Americans, now and in the future, the choice in this instance is simple: You must vote "No" on the nomination of Samuel Alito for the position of associate justice of the Supreme Court.
Thank you for your consideration.