I was looking up the time for the vote today in the Senate over Supreme Court nominee Alito when I happened upon this CBS report. It says:
"With 57 senators already pledging to vote for Alito, his confirmation is assured."
"But it's shaping up as the most partisan victory for a high court nominee in modern history."
"Alito ... expected to lead the nine-member Supreme Court into a new conservative era following the retirement of O'Connor, the court's first female justice and a key moderate swing vote on issues like assisted suicide, campaign finance law, the death penalty, affirmative action and abortion ... Mr. Bush's decision to replace O'Connor with a former Reagan administration lawyer who worked to get the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade overturned."
"At most, six or seven Democrats will vote for Alito's confirmation, the lowest number of senators not in the president's party to support a Supreme Court nominee in modern history."
Each of these statements is facially correct. Nothing apparently biased is contained in them. But here's the rub. There is nothing which could be voted upon today in the US Senate that would not be totally partisan. If George Bush were to nominate "Lassie" for the dog hero hall of fame, Democrats might filibuster the nomination, and failing that, would vote something like 55-45.
And the juxtaposition of O'Connor's tendency to vote along liberal (no, not moderate) lines with Alito's record as an employee in a conservative administration is entirely unfair. This battle is not about whether women should be permitted to vote or work or required to wear burkhas. This is about hiring a qualified man to work with the nation's founding documents when adjudicating legal disputes. The fact that he was a lawyer in a conservative administration and did things to please his bosses has no more bearing on his qualifications for this job than did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's extensive work with the ACLU.
CBS is hardly the only news organization to slant this story in a particular direction. Reuters just reported Alito was confirmed in a "near party-line vote." The AP called the vote "one of the most partisan voites (sic) for a high court nominee in modern history." Nowhere in news coverage was the fact that there was an attempted filibuster. That vote took place immediately before the vote on the nomination. The vote against a filibuster was 72-25 with 3 not voting. The tally on Alito's vote itself saw 58 votes in favor and 42 opposed which significantly exceeds Justice Clarence Thomas' 52-48 confirmation. I could tell you that only 4 Democrats crossed party lines to vote in favor of Alito the way the MSM is doing. But I'm not a journalist and I'm allowed to be biased. So I choose to tell you that only 42 Senators voted against Alito. That number could have supported a filibuster but 17, almost half of those who voted against him did not have the courage of their apparent convictions - they voted against cloture.