I agree, Dahlia . Despite the media’s attempt to paint Alito as some kind of fist-pumping judicial tea bagger, his mildly indecorous headshake was hardly the “partisan sideshow” some liberal bloggers have made it out to be. The problem is not that the court has morphed into some kind of political monster over the last decade, it’s that, in the age of 24-hour news and juicy tell-all memoirs from government officials, the patina of impartiality has begun to wear off. No wonder the Supremes don’t want cameras in the courtroom.
More than anything else, this incident reflects the personal rancor that persists between Obama and the newest conservative justices. Alito and Roberts, both Bush nominees, faced substantial opposition from Senate Democrats during their confirmation hearings. Toeing the party line, then-Senator Obama voted against Roberts’ promotion to the Supreme Court and joined the effort to filibuster against Alito’s confirmation. For the junior justice, these wounds are still fresh. It was reported last year that Alito boycotted a casual meet-and-greet with the new president and crosses to the far side of the street whenever he walks on Capitol Hill.
So what’s to be done about this? If Obama can spare a sudsy summer afternoon for a dialogue on race , surely he can demonstrate true due deference to his colleagues in the third branch and make an earnest bid at détente. I propose that Obama sit down with the conservative justices over a few glasses of wine, or, better yet, engage them in a rousing game of hoops on the highest court in the land . And let them win this time.