Today's Blogs

Judging Alito

Bloggers are eagerly analyzing the second day of the Alito confirmation hearings; they are also poring over two literary scandals and discussing sex-selection in India.

Judging Alito: Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito fielded  questions from a bipartisan panel of senators at his confirmation hearing today. Bloggers are gleefully criticizing Alito, his interrogators, and the legal ideas being bandied about.

Although Alito testified Tuesday that no president is above the law, many bloggers are scrutinizing his position on the unitary executive theory, which claims that Article II of the Constitution gives the president the sole power to executive federal law. As Democratic Daily Kos’ Armando points out, Alito has said that he favored the theory. Armando writes that in today’s hearings, “Alito did NOT disavow this view of an unfettered Presidential power—of the President as King.” Conservative Jonathan Adler, of the National Review’s legal blog, BenchMemos, opines that “some element of the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief is beyond direct Congressional control. The key issue is whether a given exercise of executive authority—whether surveillance, detention, troop deployment, or something else—lies within that core of inherent authority. … Judge Alito is unlikely to say this directly—as his Senate questioners would not like to hear that their power is limited—but that does not make it any less so.” And liberal Atrios insists, “When Alito says that no one is above the law it’s an utterly meaningless statement if his view of law includes a limitless view of the president’s Article II powers which trumps all other laws.”

Other bloggers are more interested in Alito’s stance on abortion. Captain’s Quarters’ conservative Ed Morrissey, who has been live-blogging the hearings, notes, “[Republican Arlen] Specter ran through the questions rather quickly after hearing the components of answers that made Alito appear most moderate on the question. An old prosecutor himself, I expect that Specter knew exactly what answers he would get from Alito.” The Washington Monthly’s Political Animal Kevin Drum asks, “I heard Alito say that he thought Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark privacy case, was correctly decided. But of course he won’t tell us whether he thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. Why not?” And the Bostonian behind Pyegar’s Journal writes, “Alito has today said that while precedent should be respected, it ought not to be considered as, in effect, untouchable. … Intervening in the social structure of the country is what the Court did in Brown, and in Roe. But lifting Roe would be yet another intervention. Judicial restraint entails not creating or instigating major social change unless constitutionally necessary.”

Read more about the Alito hearing; SCOTUSblog is live-blogging the event. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s coverage of the hearings in Slate.

Truth not as strange as fiction: Two literary scandals are being batted about the blogosphere. In October, New York magazine suggested that successful author JT LeRoy, allegedly a young, transgendered ex-hustler with AIDS, is actually 40-year-old musician Laura Albert. Over the weekend, The Smoking Gun published evidence that James Frey, author of best-selling memoir A Million Little Pieces, made up or “wildly embellished” many details of his hard-luck story—particularly the extent of his criminal career. On Monday, the New York Times addressed both controversies, confirming that LeRoy has been played in public by Albert’s sister-in-law and agreeing that Albert probably wrote the LeRoy books.

Much of the outrage focuses on “LeRoy’s” false allegation of having AIDs. MediaBistro’s publishing blog, GalleyCat, posts an e-mail from LeRoy’s agent, Ira Silverberg: “People were deceived in a brutal way: playing the AIDS card to elicit support, money, connections. That is simply unacceptable. It is morally reprehensible.” NY media blog Gawker, having a field day with the two stories, snarks, “[W]hile pretending to have AIDS is, indeed, ‘morally reprehensible,’ parlaying that disposition into a friendship with Courtney Love, as Leroy did, is beyond human tolerance or comprehension.”

Some are wondering about the repercussions. “[E]very one deserves their money back. Oprah deserves an explanation and apology,” insistsMitzi’s Musings’ LadyLit, a nurse.

And omg Blog’s Frank asks, “[W]ill James Frey incur an Hermès-level of wrath from Oprah? I would fly to New York to see him struck down by America’s greatest force of nature.” However, he also writes, “I think the most humorous is that Ms. Albert took her family to Disneyland Paris and let The New York Times pay the bill! That alone almost makes me wish she got away with it.”

Read more about Frey and LeRoy.

Bride and prejudice: A new study suggests that up to a half-million girls are aborted in India each year, despite the fact that “Sex selective abortions have been banned in India for more than a decade.”

Although people may select against girls because boys are perceived to do more work, Within/Without’s Neha Viswanathan, a London-based writer, points out, “In terms of sheer value for work, from age 4 onwards, more girls than boys do chores in the house in agrarian households. … In the kind of subsistence farming patterns in India, both men and women are equally involved in farm labour.”

Others are remarking on new information about sex selection. “The one result of the study which really makes me lose hope for the future is that a more educated woman is even MORE likely to pursue sex selection by abortion (although this could be due to pressure from their equally more educated spouse),” writes Abhi on desi group blog Sepia Mutiny. Pickled Politics’ Rohin, a British medical student, notes at least one contradiction to conventional wisdom: “It is apparent that as long as a family has at least one son, they seem happy. This is somewhat surprising as one of the main proposed reasons for female foeticide is to avoid paying dowry.”

Read more about sex selection in India.

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