Dear Senator Byrd,
Now that you've seen them in action, seen them for what they truly are, I'm wondering if you're ready to apologize to West Virginians like me and Americans all across the land who begged you to be brave and bold and stand in the way of the neo-conservative judicial juggernaut by opposing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I'm wondering if you've got the nerve to look Americans in the eye and say "I was wrong. I voted for vile, activist conservative nominees to the Supreme Court and I shouldn't have. I have given America a nightmare whose end I'll never live to see, but millions of American children will." I wish you did, but I doubt you do.
You know what your two votes for Roberts and Alito have given us, don't you, Senator? You've given us a ride on a rail back to some of the darkest days in America's history. Just this past Thursday, Alito and Roberts began doing what millions of Democrats (except you and some of your Senate colleagues, apparently) KNEW they would do: they have begun rolling back more than fifty years of civil rights progress under the guise of "conservatism." They've already started on womens' rights, now they're after minority racial rights. What's next, Senator Byrd? How will you feel as you watch the fundamental building blocks of our free society fall, one by one, to the depredations of supreme court justices for whom political philosophy is far more important than our beloved Constitution?
In the Seattle and Lousiville school district cases, Senator Byrd, Alito and Roberts led the charge to so thoroughly vitiate Brown v. Board of Education as to leave it hollow and meaningless. Seeing what the neo-con justices you gave us have done to school desegregation gave me the same feeling that seeing an American flag burn does. I am simply sick with it. Heartsick.
I hold you personally responsible, Senator Byrd. At a time when great courage and leadership was called for in opposing men who were clearly unfit for service on the highest court in the land, you instead gave us a wad of sickening palaver about the process not being civil enough. In fact, you wrote on January 26, 2006 "my considered judgment from his record, from his answers to my questions, and from his obvious intelligence and sincerity, leads me to believe him to be an honorable man."
Senator Byrd, you were wrong. Justice Alito, during his confirmation hearing, under oath, and without prodding, repeatedly pledged his dedication to "stare decisis." You can see from his vote in these school board cases that he was lying. He perjured himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His position in these cases represents nothing short of a return to Plessy-style "separate but equal" status for African-American school children. The opinion even cites Brown v. Board of Ed. as standing for the proposition that schools can't move to create racial balance in schools where imbalance exists. What a tortured piece of neo-conservative "reasoning" that is, especially in light of the holdings in all of Brown's progeny.
Also in your January 26 remarks, you decried the fervor with which many of us urged you to oppose a man as clearly unfit as Sammy Alito. Senator Byrd, there was a reason we were trying so desperately to get you to do the right thing. When the night-riders come, one cannot stand meekly quiet about it. Alito, as we knew from his record, a record that included the involuntary strip-search of a nine year old African-American girl and the condonation of the murder of a fifteen year old African-American boy, had no business whatsoever on the Supreme Court. We tried to tell you, Senator Byrd, but you turned a deaf ear to us, instead prefering to pander to a bunch of fundamentalist theocrats who fairly ached to see Alito reach the bench.
You could've stopped Alito, Senator. You, standing proud in your "dignitas" could've called the Republicans' bluff and filibustered his nomination. Wavering Senate Democrats would've gladly followed you. Instead, you've enabled an assault on civil liberaties that may not stop for a generation and may, in fact, leave the Bill of Rights in tatters.
When the Constitution called, Senator Byrd, you were found wanting. When the Constitution called, you gave us drawly drivel about what a nice guy Sam Alito is; about hand-written letters written on lined stationery; about Alito protecting religion. Now, he and his cronies are openly, brazenly attacking the single-most important legal doctrine of the last seventy years, and you foisted it upon us.
Senator Byrd, you can't undo the wrong you've blithely wrought, but you can apologize. Apologize to me and millions of Americans like me who tried, presciently and correctly, to warn you against the perils of men like Roberts and Alito. Denounce these Plessyfied, bigoted, neo-con apparatchiks from the floor of the Senate! Renounce your support. Save your legacy.
Very truly yours,