Alito and Executive Power

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Dahlia Lithwick has an important piece today in Slate, trying to figure out how Samuel Alito would rule in various “war on terror” cases if he ever makes it to the Supreme Court. Alito doesn’t have a lot of experience in this area, but when the opportunity has arisen, the man has always—always—ruled in favor of greater police and government power. Odds are he’ll side with the president when Bush wants the power to detain people without charging them, or ask for a “blank check” during a state of war—something that previous Courts have refused to give him.

Back when it looked like Harriet Miers was going to be the nominee, I wrote a long-ish post noting that an expansion of executive power has always been a longtime Republican goal, and Alito looks like he’s willing to further that. It’s not just “war on terror” powers; the GOP has long wanted executive privileges in secrecy matters and the power to control the executive branch free from congressional oversight. While Alito’s views on Roe v. Wade will certainly take up the bulk of the time in his upcoming Senate hearings—and in a just world, the Democrats would filibuster him for it—but his views on executive power should get a thorough scouring as well.

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