Need a reason to oppose Alito, Democrats?
If his general wingnuttery wasn't enough, how about this :
Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. said yesterday that he did nothing improper when he ruled in cases involving two financial firms in which he held accounts, although he had told the Senate 15 years ago that he would step aside in matters involving the companies.Arlen Specter is worried:
Alito, trying to quell conflict-of-interest issues raised by liberal opponents, said he had been "unduly restrictive" in promising in 1990 to recuse himself in cases involving Vanguard Group Inc. and Smith Barney Inc. After the Senate confirmed him as an appellate judge and when he subsequently ruled on routine cases involving the two companies, he said, he acted properly because his connections to the firms did not constitute a conflict of interest under the applicable rules and laws.
The Supreme Court nominee's comments, made in a two-page letter to Senate Judiciary Committee members, differed from the White House's explanations of his actions. The White House said last month that a courthouse "computer screening program" had failed to alert Alito to step aside in the Vanguard case. Alito made no reference to computers in yesterday's letter. He said he went further than he needed to in 1990 when he promised to avoid ruling in cases involving Vanguard and Smith Barney.
"To the best of my knowledge, I have not ruled on a case for which I had a legal or ethical obligation to recuse myself during my 15 years on the federal bench," he wrote.
...Democrats and liberal groups have not suggested that Alito could have benefited from the rulings in the Vanguard and Smith Barney cases. Rather, they have questioned why he ruled in the matters after telling the Senate -- in the 1990 confirmation process for his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit -- that he would recuse himself in cases involving Vanguard, Smith Barney and his sister's law firm.
Democrats have focused on the recusal questions in recent days, as criticisms of Alito's judicial philosophy have had little effect. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), speaking with reporters this week after meeting with Alito, said he told the nominee: "You are ultimately the check on whether or not you kept your pledge. You indicated you would recuse yourself, and then did not."
Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today was asked if he thinks the Vanguard matter is spiraling out of control and could endanger Alito's nomination. His response, quote: "I'm concerned it has potential, it may."