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A Day of Q's and A's -- and a Few Z's
Alito confessed: "I was proud to be a member."
A recess was called, and Hatch rushed to the microphones outside. "As you can see, this is one whale of an attorney here, one whale of a judge," he said. "I think these are some of the most succinct and intelligent statements ever made about the philosophy of judging in any Supreme Court nomination hearing."
Between the Republican softballs and the Democratic speeches, there was little left for Alito to say. According to a calculation done by the committee's GOP staff, 10 of the first 12 senators spent more time talking than listening to the nominee's answers.
It was late in the afternoon when the hearing room finally began to acquire some energy. When Specter allowed a brief argument between Feingold and Hatch, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) protested: "The chairman was disturbed by my snoring over here."
Feingold got Alito to acknowledge that his failure to recuse himself in a case in which he had a potential conflict of interest "was not a computer glitch," as Alito had previously asserted.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) provided some much-needed relief, pleading for absolution "if any of us come before a court and we can't remember [Jack] Abramoff," the disgraced lobbyist.
Schumer, the last Democrat to speak, waved a paperback copy of the Constitution and hauled out a poster showing Alito's 1985 statement that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." Over and over, Alito refused to say whether he still held that view. Schumer, anticipating the refusal, likened it to a friend's refusal to say whether he hates his mother-in-law. "Your refusal I find troubling," he said.
But Specter, at least, pronounced himself satisfied. Overcoming Alito's dig about the super-duper detergent, the chairman said he no longer considered the proceedings a "minuet" in which the nominee says as little as possible. "I think the dance pattern has changed," he said. "Maybe a foxtrot."