On Tuesday, January 24, the Senate judiciary committee approved Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in a 10-8 vote, sending Alito to the full Senate for confirmation.
The ten who voted in favor were all Republicans, the eight who voted against were Democrats.
Since blindly partisan politics seem to be the normal mode of operation in the government today, we can hardly say we're surprised by the results of this vote. To quote an old cliche, the President says jump, the Republican legislature asks how high.
Still, as women, Alito's all-but-given ascension to the Supreme Court gives us pause. Sure, he's much better than the supremely unqualified Harriet Miers, who was so much of a joke that her nomination couldn't be taken as anything but an insult to the American people and government.
So much of a joke, in fact, that we have to wonder if the Bush administration knew she would be so widely reviled that anyone coming after her who was technically qualified would be able to slip in. In short, being a better candidate than Harriet Miers doesn't take much.
Alito, to his credit, has already spent 15 years on the bench and almost the entirety of his career in the public sector, including a stint as the US attorney for New Jersey.
Despite his qualifications, Alito's refusal to call Roe v. Wade "determined law" is not a good sign of what is to come, especially taking into account his previous stance on abortion.
In 1985 when working for the Reagan administration Alito wrote a now-famous memo indicating that he didn't believe the constitution protected the right to an abortion.
With Alito soon to be sitting on the Supreme Court, becoming one of the nine citizens who interpret the constitution for the rest of us, already precarious women's rights could soon be put into even more jeopardy. Because any single infringement on women's rights opens the door to another.
While those of us in California don't have to worry now or anytime in the foreseeable future about lack of access to abortions (if Roe v. Wade was overturned, it wouldn't make abortions illegal, it would just allow individual states to outlaw abortions), women everywhere should be concerned for the rights of all women.
Today it's abortions, what about tomorrow? Maternity leave? Sexual harassment laws? Access to birth control?
The conservative agenda continues to assert itself as an anti-woman agenda. Women's rights have historically been challenged by conservative governments; only the hard work of concerned citizens has gotten us as far as we are today.
Today we see the anti-woman agenda pushed with renewed fervor. Alito's rise to the Supreme Court brings us one step closer to losing the rights we have come to rely on, and one step father from gaining the rights we're still fighting for.
We don't want Justices with conservative agendas sitting on the Supreme Court, or any other court in this nation for that matter. But we don't want Justices with liberal agendas sitting on our courts either.
A Judge should not have political ties so strong that they cloud their judicial objectivity. The job of a Justice requires a scholar, someone to think deeply and interpret the constitution to the best of their ability, not to read what they want into the sometimes maddeningly ambiguous document.