Who deserves sympathy?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 16, 2006

I've made this point before, but The Washington Post's David Broder brings up the issue in his Sunday column and shows just how far out of touch with reality the liberal elite is.

At no point that I heard did Alito express sympathy for the men and women who came to his court looking for help -- and were turned away. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked him about some of those people.

One was a black man convicted of murder by an all-white jury sitting in a courtroom where local prosecutors had eliminated all African American jurors in five consecutive murder trials in the space of a year. Alito, dissenting from a verdict overturning the conviction, wrote that the makeup of the jury was no more significant than the fact that "Although only about 10 [percent] of the population is left-handed, left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections."

Durbin asked why he had used an analogy that his fellow judges had called totally inappropriate and suggestive of a disregard of "the history of discrimination against prospective black jurors and black defendants."

Alito responded, "Well, the analogy . . . went to the issue of statistics and the use and misuse of statistics, and the fact that statistics can be quite misleading . . . that's what that was referring to. There's a whole -- statistics is a branch of mathematics, and there are ways to analyze statistics so that you draw sound conclusions from them and avoid erroneous conclusions from them."

That perfectly bureaucratic response betrays not the slightest doubt about the human consequences of his reasoning.

Who is the victim here? Broder's victim is James Willliam Riley, a convicted murderer whose appeal came before Alito's Third Circuit court. As far as I'm concerned, the real victim is James Feeley who was murdered by Riley during the course of a robbery.

As OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto points out:

Two judges of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, over Alito's dissent, overturned Riley's conviction. Riley was retried and convicted again. So Broder is telling us that there is something wrong with Alito because he doesn't "express sympathy" for a guy who knocked over a liquor store and murdered the owner.

It's a common liberal mindset, even more prevalent among those who oppose capital punishment, that those convicted of a crime transform at sentencing from a perpetrator to a victim of the government. The person who was murdered slowly disappears from the public memory, but the murderer lives on as they go through almost limitless appeals.

Broder should be ashamed of himself. If one were to use Democrat tactics against judicial nominees against Broder himself, one would have to conclude that Broder sympathizes with convicted murderers and not murder victims and their families.

This, of course, is abnormal -- but that is the state of much of the political left when it comes to opposing qualified judicial candidates.


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January 2006



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