If Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings and vote were proceeding at the same pace as the Ruth Bader Ginsburg nomination, then his hearings would have concluded the week after Thanksgiving. His confirmation vote would be held, today, Monday, December 12. Justice O’Connor would be able to retire well before Christmas.
Instead, we must wait 4 more weeks for a hearing and nearly 6 weeks more for a vote by the full Senate.
Ginsburg was nominated on June 22, 1993. Her hearings were held four weeks later on July 20-23. She was confirmed two weeks after the hearings, on August 3. The total period between nomination and confirmation was 42 days. Alito, by contrast, was nominated on October 31, 2005. His hearings will not be held until a full ten weeks later, on January 9, 2006, and his confirmation vote is scheduled nearly two weeks after that, on January 20. The period between nomination and confirmation, assuming that nothing goes awry, will be 81 days.
Democrats argue that they need the extra time to review Alito’s record. After all, he has been a federal judge for 15 years. But Ginsburg was a federal judge for nearly as long—about 13 years. Both judges had jobs prior to their judicial tenure that would require them to write memos and articles that Senate staffers would want to review. Neither am I persuaded by the observation that two federal holidays will occur between Alito’s nomination and hearing. So what? One federal holiday occurred soon after Ginsburg was nominated. Count me unimpressed.
I don’t know about you, but I primarily blame Arlen Specter for the fact that we will not close this week with a new Supreme Court Justice. Yet another reason for Republicans to wish that Pat Toomey had won in Pennsylvania last year.