Pragmatic Reason for Chafee to Support Alito
According to Michael Barone:
The political risks of opposing an Italian-American are therefore probably less than in 1983 [when Judge Antonin Scalia was nominated and confirmed]. But they’re not zero. I wonder whether Tom Carper of Delaware (where 7 percent of the population in the 2000 census said they were of Italian ancestry), Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey (14 percent), Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York (11 percent), Christopher Dodd and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (14 percent), and Jack Reed of Rhode Island (14 percent) really want to go to the length of supporting a filibuster against an Italian-American judge with sterling credentials and majority support in the Senate. I’m pretty sure that Lincoln Chafee, facing a conservative opponent in the Republican primary in Rhode Island, the state with the nation’s highest percentage of Italian-Americans, doesn’t want to oppose Alito. If I were giving him political advice, I would certainly advise him not to do so. As much as one quarter of Republican primary voters there will have Italian names or Italian ancestors.
Barone also provides this statement:
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) applauds President George W. Bush on his nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr., a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to the position of associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.Judge Alito, whose father immigrated to the United States from Italy, is highly respected in the judicial community for his constitutional knowledge and his impeccable character.President Bush has chosen an individual whose intellect and qualifications are above reproach. We are proud and fortunate that he shares our Italian heritage. Washington, D.C. Oct. 31, 2005.
In heavily Roman Catholic (and Italian-American) Rhode Island, can Chafee afford not to support such a well-qualified judicial candidate? Will concern for his “pro-choice” interest group rating prevail over political calculation? On the other hand, despite what Barone may think, I have little doubt that Senator Reed will pay little heed to this sort of “identity politics.”