Specter on Alito

SPECTER ON ALITO….Arlen Specter said today that he’s looked at Samuel Alito’s dissent in Casey and doesn’t think it indicates that Alito would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s fine, I suppose, but it doesn’t really matter much. After all, Specter’s personal interpretation of Alito’s opinions is just that: his personal interpretation.

On the other hand, Alito’s personal interpretation obviously does mean something, and here’s what Specter reported on that score:

The chairman said he had met with Alito for an hour and 15 minutes Monday and that the veteran appeals court judge assured him ?he believes there is a right to privacy under the liberty clause of the United States Constitution? and ?he accepts Griswold v. Connecticut as good law.?

….Alito also assured Specter that his view of legal precedent was that ?the longer a decision was in effect and the more times it had been affirmed by different courts and different justices appointed by different presidents, it had extra precedential value.?

That’s pretty interesting, because it’s exactly what I was writing about over the weekend in response to Jeffrey Rosen’s New York Times piece about “super stare decisis.” Griswold is the foundation of Roe, and if Alito truly believes both that Griswold is settled law and that longstanding precedents deserve special deference, this suggests that Roe would be largely safe too. He might still be willing to carve out more exceptions than a centrist justice would, but he probably wouldn’t be willing to overturn it completely.

Of course, that’s if this is what he really believes, and you can count me as unconvinced unless I hear it in his own words while he’s testifying under oath. In the meantime, though, it ought to raise some blood pressure on the right, since Griswold’s penumbras and emanations are an object of special scorn among judicial conservatives. Let the games begin.

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