The Thought-Crimes of Judge Alito

     In an attempt to create the impression that they 
aren't obsessed with abortion, liberals are scrounging 
around for other reasons to oppose the confirmation of 
Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. And they think 
they have found a hot one: his views on the Warren 
Court's "landmark" decisions on reapportionment.

     Sen. Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat, thinks 
Alito's reactionary opinions on the one-person/one-vote 
principle may jeopardize his confirmation even more than 
his criticism of Roe v. Wade. Adam Cohen of THE NEW YORK 
TIMES, an incurable liberal, calls Alito's position 
"radical," says it "raises serious questions about his 
views on democracy and equality," places him among 
"far-right lawyers" outside the "legal mainstream," and 
suggests he is "at heart an elitist."

     That's a liberal for you -- always calling for 
independent thinking, while pillorying anyone outside the 

     I hope Alito sticks to his guns. The rulings in 
question were radical in their day, which is why liberals 
loved them, and the Court wasn't unanimous, which is why 
there should be room for doubt about them now. Cohen is 
asserting the liberal version of the Brezhnev Doctrine: 
"What we have, we keep."

     The Court's demand for the reapportionment of state 
legislatures, led by William Brennan, was based on a 
strained reading of the 14th Amendment's "equal 
protection" clause that ignored the 10th Amendment. As so 
often happens, the Court disliked the way the states were 
doing business, so it usurped their powers to get the 
result it wanted.

     Felix Frankfurter, a liberal given to fits of 
honesty, dissented, arguing that his colleagues were 
exceeding their authority. He was right, and there is no 
reason why a bad decision should stand forever.

     The majority held that it was unfair, ergo 
unconstitutional, for the states to apportion their 
legislatures in such a way that some votes (in thinly 
populated rural districts, say) should have more 
representation than others (in heavily populated urban 
districts). Well, unfair or not, it had always been 
constitutional. The Court might as well have ruled that 
the U.S. Senate is unconstitutional, since it gives 
voters in Alaska just as much representation as voters in 
New York.

     But the liberals didn't dare press their own "equal 
protection" logic quite that far. In a nutshell, they 
decided that the states were forbidden to practice the 
same kind of federalism the federal government is based 
on. "Equal protection" became a fetish, a matter of mere 

     The result, as intended, was a huge shakeup of the 
internal politics of the states, ensuring urban and 
liberal dominance. Conservatives, naturally, thought 
there was room for more than one opinion about this, and 
they resented this liberal power-grab made in the name of 
equality and democracy. Once again the Court had 
arbitrarily used the 14th Amendment to nullify the rest 
of the Constitution and long-established tradition. Earl 
Warren gloated that the reapportionment rulings were the 
greatest achievement of the Court during his tenure.

     Pace Joe Biden and Adam Cohen, the winning side 
isn't always the right side. Anyone with an open mind 
must realize that in the short run, error often prevails, 
especially when it has power going for it; and Samuel 
Alito, by being critical of "mainstream" precedents, is 
showing a more open mind than his opponents who will 
tolerate no questioning of old liberal dogmas.

     Anyone who really treasures valid traditions must 
also hate the fads that undermine our heritage, and the 
work of the 21st century will include undoing the harm of 
the 20th. But of course liberals want us to treat their 
own recent fads as hallowed traditions. This is what the 
Alito confirmation fight will be about.

Rumors of War

     Charles Krauthammer, a bellwether of the 
neoconservatives, has recently predicted that the 
Israelis will soon attack Iran's nuclear facilities. This 
could mean that it's likely to happen, and that the 
neocons have been tipped off to emit propaganda for it.

     In his weekly column, Krauthammer called for such an 
attack, noting that Iran's new president has not only 
denied the Holocaust but called for Israel to be "wiped 
off the map" (or moved to Europe).

     What happens next may depend on Ariel Sharon's 
failing health (as I write, he has just had a serious 
stroke), so it's hardly a certainty. But the Bush 
administration, seeing Iran as part of the "Axis of 
Evil," isn't in a position to widen the war now, and 
would give its tacit approval if the Israelis saved it 
the trouble by taking the initiative; Vice President 
Cheney has already hinted as much.

     Nobody can want yet another state to join the 
nuclear "club" by acquiring weapons of mass murder. But 
the Israelis already have them, and they want to retain 
their monopoly in the region (setting aside Pakistan), 
not, I hope, because they mean to drop them on civilians, 
but because mere possession of these things determines 
the balance of power.

     Whatever ensues, the American-Israeli alliance 
ensures that we will find ourselves even more isolated 
and unpopular than we already are. The neocons have a 
record of getting the wars they want.

Tragedy under the Earth

     From West Virginia, a long stone's throw from where 
I sit, comes the horrifying story of 12 coal miners found 
dead -- only one surviving -- after an underground 
explosion. The grim discovery followed an agonizing 
attempt to rescue them and false reports that it had 

     Most of us complain about our jobs at one time or 
another, but as I followed this story on the radio I 
could only feel blessed that the good Lord has spared me 
the necessity of making a living mining coal -- dull, 
dark, dismal, unhealthy labor, with the additional 
element, now underscored, of danger.

     Who would do such work if he had any choice? I keep 
thinking how easy it has been to mistake my good fortune 
for desert, when it's really divine mercy I've failed to 

     If there is any consolation here, it's that these 
poor men almost surely turned to God in their last 
desperate moments, and He would not forsake them.

                 +          +          +                  

     SOBRAN'S ponders the perverse spiritual appeal of 
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