January 11, 2006

"The crushing hand of fate."

Senator Durbin just finished questioning Samuel Alito, in Day 3 of the hearings, and he referred more than once to "the crushing hand of fate" in Alito's decisions. According to Durbin, Alito has time and time again come down on the side of corporations and other big institutions.

Durbin accused of Alito of seeking out ways to decide cases against the little guy and even tried to connect a decision of Alito's to the recent mining disaster. Alito defended himself in his usual way: I decide cases according to the law. That case relating to mining was about the statutory definition of "mine," and the above-ground pile of coal at issue in the case did not fit the definition.

Durbin just repeated his accusation: There's a pattern, a pattern of decisions, you know, the crushing hand of fate. (Crushing miners underground?) Durbin sounds a litttle dimwitted saying this, but his point is one made by some of the smartest people in the legal academy: I don't care what your excuse is for any given case that you might want to explain. I will just retreat to my observation, based on every case you ever decided, that there is an overall pattern of siding with the big guy.

Alito's last response to Durbin, as the time is running out, is the assertion that there are many cases where he has sided with the little guy -- not enough to alter the pattern, the pattern, you know -- and a description of one case where his decision favored a schoolboy who had been bullied because of his perceived sexual orientation -- doesn't matter because there's still the pattern, the crushing-hand-of-fate pattern -- and I'm not sure if Alito is sounding sympathetic, whiny, or just naturally nasal, and then he clamps his lips shut with his jowls in the pulled-down position that makes me think he's pretty pissed off at Durbin.

33 comments:

Dave Schuler said...

Please, Ann, a little kindness and understanding. Historically, there have been many different approaches taken to the “dimwitted”. In some places even today they are hidden away. In some places they've been venerated.

In the United States today they frequently receive special care and resources to help them lead productive and happy lives.

Here in Illinois, of course, we elect them to the U. S. Senate.

tiggeril said...

I am not proud to call Durbin one of my senators. I swear I've eaten pudding more sentient than him.

Smilin' Jack said...

Durbin sounds a litttle dimwitted saying this, but his point is one made by some of the smartest people in the legal academy: I don't care what your excuse is for any given case that you might want to explain. I will just retreat to my observation, based on every case you ever decided, that there is an overall pattern of siding with the big guy.

But maybe the big guy is usually right, and that's how he got to be big.

Goesh said...

(Crushing miners underground?)

snicker snicker

kimsch said...

I can't believe this guy is my senator either... He tried sooo hard to get Alito to say that Roe was "settled law", to mean that it is untouchable. Alito did say that Griswold is pretty settled. Cases don't come before the court anymore. Roe cases most certainly do.

Icepick said...

Dave, based on the evidence at hand, I would assert that all fifty states elect the "dimwitted" to the US Senate.

(Pooh, I hope this doesn't continue to harsh your mellow.)

Steve Donohue said...

My Con. Lay professor this semester had a pretty good term for Durbin: infracaninophile

infra- under
canine- dog
phile- love

It wasn't a compliment, either.

XWL said...

Senator Durbin's first name seems to be definitional.




And, really, the gist of all of Sen. Durbin's nonsense was

Sen. D,'we see a pattern of crushing the little guy'

Nominee A answers, 'but this, and this, and this case show a pattern that refutes your assumption, and besides the specific facts with which I was dealing are what matters'

Sen. D, 'but we see a pattern, and I'm quoting Springsteen, so therefore I'm cooler than you'

Nominee A, 'I'm glad you've heard of Springsteen, I don't know how I can change your mind about me, so there are various acts I can think of that you should be doing to yourself with long hard objects (obviously, these sentiments would be thought, not voiced)'

Old Dad said...

Ice Pick,

Gotta disagree. My Senators are certainly dull, but they are sentient. Heck, I'd wager that their IQs break into the low three digits.

But Durbin is dumb as a post.

Icepick said...

Old Dad, where do you live?

And, just to make Pooh feel a little better if he reads this, there is actually one Senator who isn't a total waste of space. Russ Feingold actually has some brains, and does use them.

The question is, what curse of Fate led him to the Senate? My guess is that he has an under-developed sense of humor. He must have heard that crack about the US Senate being "the greatest deliberative body in the world" and not realized it was sarcasm.

MadisonMan said...

I've always thought Russ Feingold has a great sense of humor, especially compared to some of his opponents. Snarling Mark Neumann comes to mind as someone particularly unfunny. So I don't think his lack of a funnybone is why he's in the Senate .

Old Dad said...

Icepick,

That's classified information, but if you're truly interested, Karl Rove has tapped my phone, and my address will be leaked to the NY Times.

D-Day said...

He should be pissed off at Durbin. The man is trying to smear him for following the law and favoring the "big guy" when it's the Durbin's and the legislature's fault that the laws are against the "little guy" in the first place.

Mike said...

Durbin: Since we both agree, Judge, that contraceptives should be legal, I don't understand why you just won't admit that it naturally follows that abortion should also be legal.

PD Shaw said...

Durbin (2006): "You have refused to refute that statement in the 1985 job application. I'm concerned. Many people will leave this hearing with a question, that maybe you will be the . . . deciding vote" in a decision to overturn Roe. http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/campaignforthecourt/2006/01/sen_durbin_1.html

Durbin (1985): "I believe we should end abortion on demand, and at every opportunity I have translated this belief into votes in the House of Representatives. . . . Also, notwithstanding the result in Webster, I continue to believe the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade should be reversed." http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/campaignforthecourt/2006/01/sen_durbin_1.html

Mike said...

I'm not sure I understand the consensus wisdom that Alito shouldn't fight back. PD Shaw's example is a wonderful retort to Durbin, and would be great fun to watch. It's not like Durbin (or any of the other Ds) are going to vote for Alito because he was polite. Anyone who believes their "I haven't made up my mind yet", well, I'd like you to take a look at this bridge I have for sale.

michael a litscher said...

If Durbin doesn't like the "crushing hand of fate," due to the laws being written as they are, perhaps he should take his concerns to the people who wrote the "crushing" laws in the first place.

Lambasting a judge for not ignoring the law while writing opinions and making rulings, because it doesn't result in what Durbin considers socially just outcomes, says more about Durbin's respect for Constitutional law and his qualifications for office than it does about Alito.

CCMCornell said...

Stop with the Star Trek definition of sentient! You mean sapient!

Murph said...

One quote from your observation sums up all anyone needs to know about the Alito hearings and our democratic participants, “Durbin sounds a little dimwitted.” He should have that printed on his business cards.

Your five words neatly sum up the comical attempts at character assassination by Kennedy, Biden, Schumer and the other dwarfs.

The ‘gotcha’ game is now fully engaged and proceeding down it’s predetermined path. All of the semi-lucid, somewhat rational dolts on the democratic side know Alito is going to be confirmed. They are muddying up the waters just enough to give a fig-leaf of cover to their colleagues who wouldn’t vote for Alito no matter how well qualified he may be.

This is no longer about his professional abilities or his personal integrity – now the mission of the committee democrats is to provide just enough window dressing so the rabid anti-Bush crowd can vote no and appear less than completely venal.

It is problematic that the longer anyone testifies the more apt they are to contradict themselves. Look for the knaves to hoodwink Arlen Spector into one more day of hearings. The democrats can then let the dogs loose and trap Judge Alito into some real or imagine linguistic jujitsu which will be totally fabricated and utterly pointless other than to make their already marginal political party look even sillier – if that’s possible.

Murph

LarryK said...

There's little doubt that Durbin is dumb as a post, but even he makes Patrick Leahy look like an intellectual giant. Which raises an interesting question - who is the stupidest Senator? Someone else definitely in the running is Jim Jeffords. Stupidity is also not restricted to the D side of the aisle, but off the top of my head I can't think of any GOP Senators who sink to the depths of Leahy, Durbin and Jeffords (although Jeffords used to be GOP). Any suggestions?

Pastor_Jeff said...

I do believe you've laid a curse on North America
A curse that we now here rehearse in Philadelphia
A second flood, a simple famine,
Plagues of locusts everywhere,
Or a cataclysmic earthquake
I'd accept with some despair;
But, no, you sent us Congress.
Good God, sir, was that fair?


You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve
Not one damn thing do we solve
Piddle, twiddle, and resolve
Nothing's ever solved in
Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy
Philadephia!

alkali said...

Durbin sounds a litttle dimwitted saying this, but his point is one made by some of the smartest people in the legal academy: I don't care what your excuse is for any given case that you might want to explain. I will just retreat to my observation, based on every case you ever decided, that there is an overall pattern of siding with the big guy.

The counterargument that Alito can't be biased because he never expressly said, "I'm voting for the big corporation, the law be damned, neener, neener, neener," is equally facile. Even a biased judge is going to write an opinion with legal arguments in it; that Alito wrote such opinions does not prove his lack of bias.

SWBarns said...

My guess is that Appellate Courts see many more cases from 'little guys' with sure loser cases than they see from big guys.

Large corporations have in-house counsel who make business decisions on whether to appeal and the cost of the appeal versus the cost of settlement. If a large corporation loses at the trial level, they carefully weigh the cost and potential benefits and settle the loser cases.

Little guys are much more likely to go after a big corporation to prove a point or to get back at the company. Lots of 'little guys' are represented by lawyers on contingency looking for a big win or they are represented by advocacy groups looking to change the law. Both of these judge benefits differently from corporations in their cost benefit analysis and are willing to take bigger risks on appeals.

Pooh said...

Pick, at least one Senator from my state has a brain. But she didn't get elected in the first place, she got appointed when daddy became governor, so that hardly counts. (Of course she got re-elected as well, but still)

Icepick said...

Murkowski? Pooh, you're in ALASKA?! You have my sympathy! But don't worry, the sun will be coming up any month now....

miklos rosza said...

Oregon's Senator Ron Wyden, a democrat, is very good. He's famous here for how much he has helped the elderly and the disabled. His staff (I speak from personal experience) is incredibly responsive and helpful. I feel strange giving a commercial but Wyden is really well-known here for this, which is why he gets re-elected with 76% of the vote.

Wizard of Agnesi said...

Larryk wrote:

Stupidity is also not restricted to the D side of the aisle, but off the top of my head I can't think of any GOP Senators who sink to the depths of Leahy, Durbin and Jeffords (although Jeffords used to be GOP). Any suggestions?

Lincoln Chafee certainly seems competitive with Jeffords.

miriam said...

I've got Biden, whose temperature exceeds his IQ, to "represent" me. And he's gearing his son up to govern me!

Richard Fagin said...

Durbin? You're worried that "pattern" comments from a guy who compared U.S. soldiers to SS extermination camp guards are credible? Every time the dear Senator opens his mouth I check the circuit breaker on my sewage system aerator because I'm alarmed by the fetid odor.

scribbler3 said...

I think Maria Cantwell, from Washington, is known as "Can't think".

David said...

on the positive side, Durbin did sound at least calm and rational when he delivered his questions (I watched the replay on cspan last night)

Alito clearly showed a huge command for the cases he was asked about, and an ability to hear the question asked and respond directly to the flaws in the question (if not the actual question itself).

Kyda Sylvester said...

I live in California. We require neither brains nor common sense in our elected representatives which is painfully obvious to anyone who has seen Pelosi and Boxer in action. Even Feinstein, for whom I once had a modicum of respect, seems finally to have slipped her tether.

However, when it comes to electing the mentally challenged, the voters of Vermont take a back seat to no one. They have saddled us with Jumpin' Jim, Leaky Leahy and Bernie Sanders, the only Socialist in Congress (well, the only avowed Socialist in Congress--credit where credit is due). And then of course there's Howlin' Howie Dean. Not bad when you consider that they only have a population of about 600,000 to work with. Sanders is a shoo-in for Jefford's seat. I can't wait to see what they come up with to replace him in the House.

David Blue said...

A lot of this is really about Roe vs. Wade. That was when a "crushing hand of fate" fell on the littlest guys.

What the Democrats fear from Alito is that he will not side with the heartless big guys, he will not aid them in crushing, he will not aid them in killing.

This attack on Alito is about as hypocritical as it could be.