Experience on bench makes Alito a good choice | NevadaAppeal.com

Experience on bench makes Alito a good choice

By most accounts, Samuel Alito Jr. is the person President Bush should have nominated for Supreme Court justice in the first place.

We say most accounts because some Democrats would have preferred a nominee off their list – someone like, say, Harriet Miers – who would be less conservative and better fit the mold of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

But it’s clear Alito is far better qualified than Miers. He’s better qualified than almost anybody else, and, with 15 years of experience on the federal appeals bench, has a deeper background than any Supreme Court nominee in many years.

What we’ve seen so far of the analysis of his hundreds of judicial opinions hasn’t raised any alarm bells, either. We like his strict interpretation of law and heavy reliance on precedent.

We also favor the kind of common-sense approach he has taken to First Amendment issues, including freedom of religion. He seems to understand the constitutional prohibition on government-backed religion doesn’t mean that religion must be ignored, or indeed shunned, from public life.

In fact, the list of reasons to support Alito’s nomination is so long and compelling, the question must be raised: What was Bush thinking when he nominated Miers?

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So far, the president’s conservative supporters have brushed the question aside, as if Bush got up one morning and accidentally pulled the wrong name from a hat. But that, of course, isn’t what happened.

Miers is a crony, a Bush insider, a member of the inner circle. Her nomination shows how deep is the president’s penchant for filling federal posts with political friends – even a Supreme Court seat.

Miers might well have become a fine judge. Alito already is one.