Laffey’s Quick Take on Chafee’s Alito “NO”
On WPRO, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey just said that he was “disappointed but not surprised” at Sen. Chafee’s decision. He said that Sen. Chafee had made himself irrelevant to the process again and that RI won’t be well-served by either Chafee’s decision on this particular issue nor on Sen. Chafee’s consistent inablilty to make a firm decision. When told that Sen. Chafee stated he opposed Alito because of his stance on abortion, the separation of church and state, and wiretapping, Mayor Laffey said that the Senator shouldn’t make litmus tests part of his decision-making process. Laffey said, “that’s wrong” and explained (I’m paraphrasing), “how would you like to get in front of a judge knowing he already has staked a position on an issue?” To Laffey, this “extremist” insistence on litmus tests is what is wrong with the process.
UPDATE:: The ProJo has more extensive coverage, here are the highlights:
Chafee said at a press conference this morning at his Providence office that he was “greatly concerned” about some of Alito’s philosophies. In explaining his decision against the judge, the senator described himself as a “pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-Bill of Rights Republican.”
Chafee noted that while Alito had “outstanding legal credentials,” his philosophy on certain issues, including the commerce clause, executive power and women’s reproductive rights, influenced his decision.
Chafee said that Alito’s position on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion seems different than the position taken by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., whom Chafee voted to confirm last year.
He said Roberts was willing to call Roe vs. Wade “settled law” during his nomination hearing, but Alito “refused to make a similar statement.”
The senator had said during his 2000 campaign that he would not vote for a nominee who did not pledge to affirm Roe v. Wade.
“I’m very concerned about the slow eroding of women’s reproductive freedom,” Chafee said. . .
Chafee today also expressed concern that Alito’s apparent position on the Constitution’s commerce clause, allowing Congress to regulate commerce among states, could weaken environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act.
And he questioned Alito’s stance on executive power as it relates to warrantless wiretaps and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Chafee stated, “Judge Alito was also asked, ‘…Is it possible under your construct that an inherent Constitutional power of the president could, under some analysis or some case, override what people believe to be a Constitutional criminal statute?’ Judge Alito responded that this was possible noting a ‘possibility that might be justified.’ ”
Chafee said, “As Justice O’Connor wrote in a recent case, ‘A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.’ ”
Chafee said he did not make his final decision until Friday. He said he needed to take his time with a thorough analysis because it’s a decision that the country will likely live with for many years since Alito is a young man.
In analyzing Alito’s positions, Chafee said he was more concerned with the appeals court judge’s decisions from the bench than what he wrote as a lawyer for “his client,” the Reagan administration.
Still, he acknowledged, “It’s so hard to predict” how a nominee will vote on the court.
Chafee, a former Warwick mayor and son of a former GOP U.S. senator and Rhode Island governor, has gained a reputation in the Senate as a maverick willing to buck the party leadership. Still, he said he wanted to support the president’s nominee.
“Believe me, having been an executive in government, I want to support President Bush’s choice to the Supreme Court,” Chafee said. “The president did win the election. He has made his promises and I have made mine.”