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October 31, 2005

Alito it is ... this should get interesting

All the news outlets are reporting that President Bush is nominate Sam Alito for the Supreme Court this morning, and battlelines are already being drawn (as Gordon Smith notes and Norm Pattis encourages).   As I have predicted (here and here), even the early discussion before the official announcement has touched upon criminal justice issues because of Alito's background as a prosecutor. 

One issue in the criminal justice debate that will surely get a lot of attention is the death penalty, especially because Alito's most recent major opinion in this area involved the reversal of a grant of habeas due to ineffective assistance in Rompilla v. Horn (available here).  That decision was ultimately reversed 5-4 by the Supreme Court in Rompilla v. Beard (available here), with Justice O'Connor serving as the key swing vote.

Of course, I am likely to be most focused on what a Justice Alito will think about the Apprendi-Blakely-Booker line of cases.  In this arena, as I have explained in posts here and here and here, defendants and defense attorneys will be hoping that Alito embraces the nickname "Scalito."

Related posts:

UPDATE: In an announcement ceremony that already suggests that the White House has a better handle on the latest SCOTUS political realities, President Bush's introduction of Sam Alito emphasized his experience and spotlighted that, as "the top prosecutor in one of the nation's largest federal districts," he "moved aggressively against white-collar and environmental crimes, and drug trafficking, and organized crime, and violation of civil rights."  These official talking points also stress experience and credentials (aka he is the anti-Miers). And Judge Alito, in his remarks, followed the "humble script" in accepting the nomination. 

My first cut reaction is to echo Orin Kerr's prediction that Alito will be confirmed without a filibuster. For all the headlines, of course, head to How Appealing.  And Lyle Denniston has this helpful post over at SCOTUSblog, while Eric Muller are Is That Legal is raising gender concerns.

October 31, 2005 at 07:59 AM | Permalink


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