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February 22, 2006

Sammy's first day at school

The AP has a rather breathless report on Justice Alito's first day hearing arguments at the Supreme Court. It's short, so you can read it all, but here are a couple of highlights:

  • Justice Alito committed a "few missteps" on "court etiquette," although the article mentions only two: he questioned a lawyer from the "Bush administration" (a/k/a the Solicitor General's office) past his allotted time; and he left the bench at the end in front of Justice Ginsburg, who is his senior. Alito is obviously a man in a hurry.
  • He "helped pick cases that will be reviewed next fall — most notably, a major abortion appeal filed by the Bush administration." Cue scary music: "As the successor to moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Alito could play a key role in the outcome of that case."
  • Alito is not another Scalia, at least in temperament: "Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe had a testy exchange with Scalia in defending the state regulations. Alito also had multiple questions for Rowe and other lawyers in the case, but was polite."

Now, here's my favorite part of the article, the part we label "BAD OMEN" in capital letters: "As the court's newest member, Alito sits in the far-right seat, when facing the court."

UPDATE: I'm chagrined to report that Dana Milbank has more to say on the subject, including a quip that this is "Samuel Alito's first day of school yesterday." Milbank adds a third faux pas to the two mentioned by the AP reporter: Alito "tried to talk at the same time as 85-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, then quickly backed down." Because, you know, the justices would never try to talk at the same time and then back down. And no snotty Washington Post column on the Supreme Court would be complete without a swipe at Justice Thomas: "The eight questions he asked -- on the finer points of the Clean Water Act and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- put him on course to surpass within days the total number of questions Justice Clarence Thomas has asked in 15 years."