• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.

The Case Against Alito

“Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.”

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ON JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS–The Gang of Fourteen (14) also known as “The Mod(erate) Squad”

The nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court has, whether we recognize it or not, driven America to the brink. Alito crystallizes a constellation of crises enveloping constitutional democracy as we have known it in America. The political ramifications of the Alito nomination are Byzantine. They are set out below.

In spite of the fact that the First Amendment enshrines the freedom of speech in a pre-eminent position in our constitution, members of the Senate have taken the extraordinary step of curtailing their own rights to free speech. Majority Leader Bill Frist, a putative presidential candidate in 2008, has even threatened to launch what he and others call the “Nuclear Option,” to outlaw the use of the filibuster.

In spite of Frist’s dire threat, there is already a mechanism in place to curtail filibusters. Sixty senators can vote for cloture to end a filibuster. That Bill Frist is willing to discard this parliamentary and congressional tradition suggests that he has little respect for freedom of speech–even among his colleagues in the Senate.

Frist’s threat to nuke the filibuster led to a temporary compromise that has taken an astonishing form. Calling themselves “The Mod(erate) Squad” or “The Gang of Fourteen (14)” a self-appointed group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats coalesced around the idea of limiting the freedom of speech and cutting off debate in the senate. They committed themselves to the virtual elimination of the filibuster specifically in cases involving judicial nominations.

The Gang of 14 rationalize their collaboration to curtail free speech and debate in the Senate as their attempt to avoid Bill Frist’s Nuclear Option and his stated ambition of bringing about the ultimate end of the filibuster in American political life–until there is, once again, a majority of Senators who would support its reincarnation.

Today, these fourteen Senators may hold the power to confirm or deny Samuel Alito’s rise to the Supreme Court. If they do not permit a filibuster to unfold against Alito, they will participate in the destruction of freedom of speech in Congress. Likewise, if Bill Frist deploys the “Nuclear Option” he will be indelibly branded as the greatest enemy of the freedom of speech in American history. The stakes are high.

To date, the Gang of 14 have been involved in the nomination of five judges to the federal bench. Three have been approved by narrow margins, and two remain unconfirmed. These two unconfirmed nominees, William Myers and Henry Saad, are deemed to meet the necessary qualification of “extraordinary circumstances,” to permit a filibuster–so radical are their agendas.

I believe that Samuel Alito meets the criteria for extraordinary circumstances as well. During his interrogation by the Judiciary Committee last week, Alito was uninformative, disingenuous, reticent and furtive in many of his responses to questions on a host of issues that strike at the heart of constitutional democracy in America.

Alito belonged to an organization dedicated to the exclusion of women and minorities from Princeton University. Alito opposes Roe versus Wade, and he has proposed robust legal strategies to strike it down. Alito opposes the principal of one person, one vote, and he has investigated constitutional means of gerrymandering, redistricting and voter suppression. Alito supports dangerously new levels of presidential power for the Chief Executive and his leading law enforcement officials that would deny American citizens their civil rights to privacy in their communications, an integral right that has been identified in the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution.

It must be stated that judge Alito’s preference for escalating levels of presidential power taken in conjunction with his well-established penchant for siding with corporations and state governments against private citizens is alarming.

Alito represents the very real threat of a virulent and reactionary reconstitution of American culture. Alito’s crusade for the expansion of the powers of the state and the presidency, and his parallel campaign to curtail the civil rights of Americans, especially women and minorities, reveals the mind of a man driven by a controlling ideology.

Alito stands starkly before America today as a radical. He represents the direct threat of theocratic authoritarianism to bring an end to constitutional democracy, the kind of democratic process that has been the unmistakable hallmark of American greatness since 1776.

Far stronger terms could be used to define Alito, but they are not necessary. Samuel Alito is quite simply Un-American both in his overwhelming devotion to increasing the powers of higher authorities and in his professional incapacity to preserve individual rights when they conflict with the powers of the state.

Alito would relieve the presidency of its responsibilities and rules to protect and defend the constitution as we have known it. Alito would transform the President into an epauletted Commander-in-Chief who would be in sole command of national security while consigning constitutional rights, civil rights, human rights and equal rights to the rubbish bin of American history.

Today. America is teetering on the brink of an abyss. Constitutional democracy and the free, open and tolerant society it has fostered are America’s terra firma, while–with the Alito nomination–the abyss of totalitarianism opens its jaws to radicalism, reaction and religious supremacy over the state and its Constitution.

Today, the senate is behaving like a victim of vertigo, staggering and losing its balance on the knife-edge of American history.

MICHAEL CARMICHAEL lives in Oxford, England. He can be reached at: mc@planetarymovement.org



More articles by:
October 23, 2019
Kenneth Surin
Western China and the New Silk Road
W. T. Whitney
Stirrings of Basic Change Accompany Protests in Haiti
Louisa Willcox
Inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to Our Feast
Jonathan Cook
The Democrats Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS
Dave Lindorff
Military Spending’s Out of Control While Slashing It Could Easily Fund Medicare for All
John Kendall Hawkins
With 2020 Hindsight, the Buffoonery Ahead
Jesse Hagopian
The Chicago Teachers Strike: “Until We Get What Our Students Deserve”
Saad Hafiz
America’s Mission to Remake Afghanistan Has Failed
Victor Grossman
Thoughts on the Impeachment of Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion
John Horning
Spotted Owls and the National Christmas Tree
October 22, 2019
Gary Leupp
The Kurds as U.S. Sacrificial Lambs
Robert Fisk
Trump and the Retreat of the American Empire
John Feffer
Trump’s Endless Wars
Marshall Auerback
Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War
Dean Baker
Trump Declares Victory in China Trade War
Patrick Bond
Bretton Woods Institutions’ Neoliberal Over-Reach Leaves Global Governance in the Gutter
Robert Hunziker
XR Co-Founder Discusses Climate Emergency
John W. Whitehead
Terrorized, Traumatized and Killed: The Police State’s Deadly Toll on America’s Children
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security
Binoy Kampmark
The Decent Protester: a Down Under Creation
Frances Madeson
Pro-Democracy Movement in Haiti Swells Despite Police Violence
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Challenges Logging and Burning Project in Methow Valley
Chelli Stanley
Change the Nation You Live In
Elliot Sperber
Humane War 
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections