Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Left Attacks, Right Defends: Yep, Looks Like Another SC Nom

The Senate takes up Samuel Alito's nomination next week, and everybody and their mom has got something to say about it. Advocacy groups from People for the American way on the left to the Judicial Confirmation Network on the right are weighing in with radio and TV ads that take a philosophical approach rather than focusing on the judge's record. For example:
Conservatives, for their part, are capitalizing on ethnic pride to rally Italian-American support for Judge Alito with public events and newspaper advertisements. The efforts are aimed particularly at the Northeastern States, where some moderate Republican senators have expressed doubts about his confirmation.

And in Arkansas, home to two moderate Democratic senators whose votes are considered to be in play, another group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, is running Christmas-themed commercials beginning this week on African-American gospel radio stations. In them, the Rev. Bill Owens, a black pastor, urges support for Judge Alito to protect public displays of Nativity scenes and menorahs, and to uphold the right of schoolgirls to "draw pictures of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for class projects."
I certainly hope that no senator's vote ends up turning on Alito's ethnicity or his support for public nativity scenes, but I suppose that's what the polls say Arkansas and the northeast care about. The liberals mentioned in the article seem to be taking a slightly more relevant tack:

Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, said the group's goal was to persuade the public that Judge Alito and his supporters had tried to obscure his lifelong commitment to a "right-wing" legal philosophy.

And at a time when Congress will be debating renewal of the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program, officials of the liberal groups said they hoped to call attention to Judge Alito's record of writings and opinions supporting law enforcement and presidential power.

"I think people's greatest fear is that Judge Alito would side with big government," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. "He would side with allowing government to intrude on individual personal lives."

I guess they may as well get out as much information as they can on Alito's philosophy now, because we won't be hearing much about it in committee. I don't expect that these ads will change too many people's opinions, because if history's any indication, it'll be a partisan slugfest regardless. My question is: why are these organizations spending so much money running media ads when they're only looking to influence the votes of 100 people? My only guess is that the plan is to sway senators through their constituents, but it'd be interesting to find out whether how well it actually works.