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November 21, 2005

Political Fallout for Opposing Alito

Robert Novak has an excellent column today outlining the political consequences for Democratic Senators who oppose Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court:

Democratic senators from six red states returned home over the weekend for the Thanksgiving recess to confront television ads connecting critics of Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court with left-wing special interests. A simultaneous message intended ultimately to reach 10 million Americans made this same point.

The counterattack on Alito's behalf was triggered by the new TV advertisement of the liberal coalition opposing Alito's confirmation by the Senate. The ad claimed Alito, as a federal appellate judge, "even voted to approve the strip search of a 10-year-old girl." This distorts a case where a suspected drug dealer's daughter was searched, visibly not manually, by a female police officer in the presence of the child's mother. Alito's defenders make the legitimate argument that the assault against him ends up as a defense of drug dealers.

Red state Democratic senators, especially those up for re-election next year, face a dilemma in deciding how to vote on confirmation. The liberal pressure groups orchestrating the attack on Alito are central to the political health of the Democratic Party. But identification with them could be fatal in closely contested Senate races.

It will be interesting to see whether the six red-state Democrats decide to oppose Alito and to what degree, if any, they make their opposition known beyond simply casting a vote against confirmation. My guess is that they may vote against confirmation but not call any attention to their votes in order to minimize Republican opposition next year.

Posted by Tom at November 21, 2005 11:24 AM

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