Carter Phillips on Sam Alito:
C-Span's "America and the Courts" series has a fascinating interview with Carter Phillips, one of the top members of the Supreme Court bar, about his friend and former co-worker Sam Alito. The interview begins at the 23-minute mark and lasts about 35 minutes. Phillips and Alito were Assistants in the SG's Office together in the early 1980s; as Phillips explains early in the interview, they met when they both interviewed at the SG's Office on the same day, during the tenure of Carter SG Wade McCree.

  Among the interesting tidbits in the interview, Phillips offers his take (at the 28-minute mark) on whether Alito's memos from the SG's office should be read as indicators of how Alito would rule as a Justice. Phillips stresses that the attorneys at the SG's office were advocates, not judges. He suggests that the Assistants in the office saw themselves as civil servants representing the institutional interests of the U.S. rather than "independently judging what [they thought was] the right answer."

  I also thought it was interesting that Alito was hired by and started under Carter SG Wade McCree, not Reagan SG Rex Lee; Alito started in June '81, according to Phillips, two months before McCree departed and was replaced by Lee.