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Alito is Number One . . . Ten:
Congratulations to Samuel Alito, who was confirmed by the Senate to the position of Associate Justice by a vote of 58-42. Alito becomes the 110th Justice in the history of the United States.

  Less obviously, congratulations are in order to Justice Stephen Breyer, who is no longer the junior-most Associate Justice and will no longer have to get the door at the Justices' confererences. Eleven years is a very long time to serve as the most junior Justice, and now he can pass on those duties to Alito.

  When the Court is next in session, the Justices will sit on the bench in this order, from left to right:

SGB CT AMK JPS JGR AS DHS RBG SAA
JohnAnnArbor:
Doesn't the most junior one have to get coffee for the others, too?
1.31.2006 12:35pm
Kovarsky (mail):
yes, breyer's had to get scalia's coffee for 10 years, a burden he makes good natured light of frequently.
1.31.2006 12:39pm
nateinky:
The one justice who has a blend of coffee named after him will be taking coffee orders.
1.31.2006 12:53pm
Mr. T.:
Since I can't comment on the below post...

I agree that the nastiness directed at SOC was beneath this blog.

On the other hand, wholesale cutting and pasting of Mark Steyn columns while turning off comments is something of a step down for the VC as well.
1.31.2006 1:04pm
WB:
Any thoughts on this scotusblog post commenting on the political undertone to the events following the confirmation vote?

I suppose that this is all irrelevant, and is just a question of style regarding how the transition was handled. Once he gets started in his new job, he'll be Justice Alito, and not "Bush's Justice" any more than Justice Stevens is "Ford's Justice."

But the White House's role leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it's all pretense to say that the confirmation vote was about neutral qualifications more than "us against them," and that there's nothing wrong with Alito watching the vote from the White House or attending the State of the Union Address.

I don't know if this is Denniston being catty or if it's legitimate criticism.
1.31.2006 1:18pm
Zubon (mail):

SGB CT AMK JPS JGR AS DHS RBG SAA

Doesn't this look like a Kevan Choset post waiting to happen?
1.31.2006 1:22pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Watch for Alito's wife sitting next to Laura Bush tonight.
1.31.2006 1:25pm
aggiesq:
Wasn't Roberts the most junior, until today? Was he excused from those duties because he is Chief?
1.31.2006 1:27pm
DNL (mail):
Will John Kerry lose a lot of credibility here? Or will he gain it from those of importance to his future campaigns?

On the one hand, he was the self-made torchbearer in the filibuster attempt. He failed to garner anywhere close to 40 votes against cloture, yet there were clearly 42 Senators who were against Alito. It is easy to make the case that Kerry simply can't lead effectively. I think this argument goes far in right of center camps, and potentially for centrists as well.

On the other hand, you can spin Kerry as a man of principle in the face of certain defeat. 17 others took the easy way out, voting against Alito while voting for cloture. 20 or so more voted against cloture but did so without attempting to enlist others. Kerry, on the other hand, did the "right thing" and voted his conscience, and tried -- against all hope -- to get others to do the same. This is a winning argument for those who are left of center.

I think the interesting thing here is that, cynically assuming that Kerry is thinking about the Dem nomination in '08, he's assuming that he'll have to run to the left to get the nod. Very PoliSci 101. On the other hand, he ran to the right in '04 to beat out Dean and Clarke. It's a reversal of roles which may actually suit him nicely.
1.31.2006 1:32pm
Gregg the Obscure (mail):
Interesting that the most sensible of the (established) justices are those to whom reference is made with only two, rather than three, initials.
1.31.2006 1:45pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
As someone who has crossed the line maybe once or twice in the comments, I have to say that the nastiness directed at SOC was uncalled for (and FWIW, I should know). I will refrain from making a political point, except to say that I think it proves that nasty jibes from the right are just as "unhinged" as those from the left -- Michelle Malkin's views notwithstanding.
1.31.2006 1:53pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Wasn't Roberts the most junior, until today? Was he excused from those duties because he is Chief?

Bingo.

Chief is first among equals. "Most junior" refers to associate justices. The Chief Justice is always the most junior chief justice, as there is only one at a time.

1.31.2006 1:55pm
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
I always thought that Breyer, deep down, must have been a little mad at Roberts getting the chief post. He was right on the cusp of ending his eleven years of being on the bottom of the food chain, and just like that, Roberts gets moved way up above him. Of course, what's a few more months after eleven years?
1.31.2006 2:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I supposed we've all heard the story about O'Connor's being asked to make the coffee at the first justices-only conference after she joined the Court, &how the other justices had to do some quick explaining?
1.31.2006 2:07pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
OK, I guess something truly inflamatory was said then... I was trying to be neutral.
1.31.2006 2:09pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Wasn't Roberts the most junior, until today? Was he excused from those duties because he is Chief?
The NYTimes had a story on it this weekend. The answer is that, yes, as Chief he is automatically deemed most senior.

And to respond to Orin,
Eleven years is a very long time to serve as the most junior Justice, and now he can pass on those duties to Alito.
According to that same Times story, this is the second longest tenure as junior justice in history; if the Democrats could have just filibustered until March 1, he would have broken Joseph Story's all-time major leagueSupreme Court record.
1.31.2006 2:10pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
That's funny, Anderson. It almost seems inappropriate, rule notwithstanding.
1.31.2006 2:11pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Not going to argue with your underlying point, GC, since it's pretty much subjective anyway... but that comment thread about O'Conner doesn't support your argument at all. It was rude, and a bit over the top for this blog (I wish they'd crack down on the commentors a little more, honestly), but it wasn't even in the same league as the more "unhinged" corners of the blogosphere.

There was nothing unhinged or even illegitimate about the complaints about O'Conner, but they were out of line in a post thanking her for her life's service. You'll have to look elsewhere for comparisons to Michelle Malkin's hate mail pile.
1.31.2006 2:15pm
Jeek:
On the other hand, wholesale cutting and pasting of Mark Steyn columns while turning off comments is something of a step down for the VC as well.

Ditto.

There was nothing unhinged or even illegitimate about the complaints about O'Conner, but they were out of line in a post thanking her for her life's service.

Gee, it wasn't clear, or stated up front, that you were only allowed to comment if you had nice things to say. Seems to me inviting comments means all kinds of comments, critical as well as adulatory, are permissible.

Deleting the whole comment section was pathetic.
1.31.2006 2:23pm
OrinKerr:
Jeek writes:


Seems to me inviting comments means all kinds of comments, critical as well as adulatory, are permissible.


Plase scroll down and read our comment policy, Jeek.
1.31.2006 2:37pm
A.S.:
Gee, it wasn't clear, or stated up front, that you were only allowed to comment if you had nice things to say. Seems to me inviting comments means all kinds of comments, critical as well as adulatory, are permissible.

Deleting the whole comment section was pathetic.


I agree completely. Seems to me to be perfectly acceptable to criticize O'Connor's decisions upon her retirement. Her death would be a different matter, but retirement shouldn't exempt you from criticism.

If Orin had something else in mind, he should have said so.
1.31.2006 2:40pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
On the other hand, wholesale cutting and pasting of Mark Steyn columns while turning off comments is something of a step down for the VC as well.

Ditto again. This seems common from the person in question (who laughably claims to be nonpartisan moreover). Moreover, the cut-and-paste jobs are always from the most unimpressive of conservatives -- such as PowerLine posts about how everyone to the left of Cheney are all traitors, and now a Mark Steyn column that was full of such inciteful lies as "John Kerry pledged that, under his leadership, 'America will rejoin the community of nations"--by which he meant Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, the Belgian guy . . .'"

1.31.2006 2:50pm
Justin (mail):
An appropriate gift for the new Justice would be Article I of the United States Constitution and the text of the Steel Seizures case.
1.31.2006 2:59pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I've been the junior dude around surgeons, pilots, soldiers, prisoners and NEVER had to get anyones coffee, what abunch of pussified snobs, if I was Alito I'd put something besides creamer in each one of their low fat skim cappuchino mochhas and that goes for republicans and democrats.
1.31.2006 3:03pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
*cough* speaking of inappropriate comments...
1.31.2006 3:14pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
An appropriate gift for the new Justice would be Article I of the United States Constitution and the text of the Steel Seizures case.

Concur. But then, I think John Yoo should be caged in Gitmo until he can recite every word of Youngstown, concurrences included of course.

Prof. Kerr's pique re: the voided thread may've been overkill, but is it really too much to expect a little class from people now &then?
1.31.2006 3:16pm
Jeek:
Plase scroll down and read our comment policy, Jeek.

I didn't see any comments after maybe 11:30am EST, but at that time there were no rants, invective, substantial exaggerations, profanity, personal insults directed at O'Connor, or anything else that would justify deleting the entire thread. I did not feel that thanking her for her career precluded reasoned commentary on some of her "bad" decisions. These are substantive posts by any stretch of the imagination.

But whatever, I concede moderator's privilege.
1.31.2006 3:33pm
Peter K. (mail):
On a more substantive note: Alito now takes over from Breyer as the author of taxation opinions in which he is in the majority; Breyer takes over from Ginsburg as the bankruptcy specialist.
1.31.2006 3:52pm
Houston Lawyer:
As the last-hired associate at my first firm, I was required to bring in pastries every Friday morning for Donut hour. Because of this, I was always on time and became friends with the owner of the pastry shop nearby. I also always got the type of pastries that I liked. The most senior partner's job was to start happy hour at about 4:30 every Friday. We were both faithful at our tasks. My current firm doesn't have donut hour and has only occasional happy hours. I wouldn't hesitate to assign to the last-hired associate the obligation to bring donuts though.
1.31.2006 4:21pm
Moral Hazard (mail):

Will John Kerry lose a lot of credibility here? Or will he gain it from those of importance to his future campaigns?

Well, before this action I think his chances of ever becoming president was 0%. Now I think he has at least doubled, maybe even tripled his chances.
1.31.2006 4:53pm
Pete Freans (mail):
I would prefer SGB AMK JPS CT JGR AS SAA DHS RBG. Conservatives would be front and center with the Chief Justice sitting at the right hand of the "father" and the libs on the fringes where they belong.
1.31.2006 5:03pm
Deoxy (mail):
"Prof. Kerr's pique re: the voided thread may've been overkill, but is it really too much to expect a little class from people now &then?"

"There was nothing unhinged or even illegitimate about the complaints about O'Conner, but they were out of line in a post thanking her for her life's service."

So, to give a completely and intentionally outrageous example, if Stalin had retiired instead of dying, the Russian people should have had "class" and "thanked him for his life's service"?

How bad does a justice have to be before we don't "thank them for their service"? How much do we have to think what they did was not remotely "service" at all before we don't have to "thank them for their service"?

I would be happy to thank a justice for their service whom I thought was run of the mill, neutral, boring, never did much'a nothin', etc. I would even be willing to thank a justice just like that whose only other contribution was some incorrect decisions on mild and rare occassions.

But I will not thank a criminal for their "service" when they retire from crime, thank you very much.

Even if you say I have no "class".
1.31.2006 5:22pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
O'Connor was a "criminal"?

What a thorougly private person Deoxy is, as Bernard Shaw put it.
1.31.2006 5:41pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Why is it so hard to understand the principle of, "it's my party and if I don't like what you're saying or how you're saying it, I'll ask you to leave"? If Prof. Kerr deleted the comments because he was having a bad day, that's his call. I'm confident that none of us has ever had anything to say of such extraordinary value that deleting it for any reason was a great loss. If you don't like it, start your own blog and comment on it.
1.31.2006 6:07pm
ras (mail):
congratulations are in order to Justice Stephen Breyer, who is no longer the junior-most Associate Justice and will no longer have to get the door at the Justices' confererences.

Listen up VRWC, this means we gotta stop ringing that doorbell and running away, now. Fun's over.
1.31.2006 7:23pm
Neal Lang (mail):
An appropriate gift for the new Justice would be Article I of the United States Constitution and the text of the Steel Seizures case.

An appropriate gift for the most of the sitting Justices would be Article III of the United States Constitution and a copy of the book Humility.
1.31.2006 10:27pm
Neal Lang (mail):
O'Connor was a "criminal"?

Ah! So that's what you call an Associate Justice that overturns their own precedece.
1.31.2006 10:31pm
eddie (mail):
I thought it was wholly appropriate for the deletion of the comments. As I read through them I could not help but think of a couple of things:

Just because one disagrees with another person, does not mean that the other person is a criminal. And the amount of actual venom is striking. Isn't this exercise about the exchange of ideas? Or is it simply about making oneself feel good by creating paper monsters?

It is hard to respect any person who discount the entire service of a good person based upon ideological differences.

AS and CT as the most prinicpled justices? Give me a break.
2.1.2006 11:03am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Listen up VRWC, this means we gotta stop ringing that doorbell and running away, now. Fun's over.


ROTFLMAO!!
2.1.2006 4:48pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Neal,

>An appropriate gift for the most of the sitting Justices would be Article III of the United States Constitution and a copy of the book Humility.<

Are you saying they need to find Jesus?
2.1.2006 8:53pm
Dracs Spago (mail):
"AS and CT as the most prinicpled justices? Give me a break."

Aw....miffed because your Ruthie &David didn't get that nod? Here's your break....now get over it.
2.1.2006 10:57pm
Gregg the Obscure (mail):
I said that they were the most sensible, not most principled. There is some difference in meaning there. RBG, for instance, is certainly very principled, but she holds a great many principles with which I would not agree. By "sensible" I meant that I would disagree with AS and CT less than I would with the other established justices.
2.2.2006 5:31pm