Alito turns tables on Biden with jabs
Justice savors payback shots
WASHINGTON - His Supreme Court confirmation hearings three years old, Justice Samuel Alito apparently still harbors some hard feelings toward one Democratic questioner at the time.
Alito made several joking references to Vice President-elect Joseph Biden during an after-dinner speech Wednesday, including Biden's withdrawal from the 1988 presidential campaign over plagiarizing parts of a speech from a British politician.
"To coin a phrase, in the spirit of the vice president-elect, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need," Alito said, an imperfect rendering of a Rolling Stones lyric.
Then, he said, "Did someone say that before?"
A bit later in his talk at an anniversary dinner for the conservative American Spectator magazine, Alito said he was about to quote liberally from a magazine article. "In the spirit of the vice president-elect, I want to honor the copyright laws," Alito said.
What could be the impetus for these comments?
Alito didn't specifically explain, but he recounted questions Biden asked during the Senate Judiciary Committee's consideration of his nomination.
Biden "became quite agitated about my supposed connections with a sinister Princeton University alumni group . . . that took up virtually his entire time during the first round," Alito said.
The Senate approved his nomination, 58-42, although both Biden and President-elect Barack Obama voted against Alito's confirmation.
"When I look at all the evidence before us, Judge Alito's writings, his statements, his judicial records, and his opinions, and the little we learned about him in these hearings, I am forced to conclude that he should not serve in the Supreme Court," Biden said in January 2006.
A Biden spokesman did not immediately comment yesterday.
Alito also described change at the Supreme Court musically.
The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist favored standards and light opera. His successor, John Roberts, became the first justice to quote Bob Dylan in a Supreme Court opinion issued earlier this year, Alito said.