Alito's only job as a judge is to uphold the law...

What is it exactly, that changes when you transition from being an attorney to being a judge? According to Samuel Alito:

When I became a judge, I stopped being a practicing attorney. And that was a big change in role.
The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. But a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge certainly doesn't have a client.
The judge's only obligation -- and it's a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires.
Right, but what I don't get is this unshakeable concept of The Law -- as though its only reputable form is pure and exists in a vacuum. There are differing opinions among Supreme Court Justices because the law can be interpreted in vastly different ways. And based on these different interpretations, the law changes. That's what a judge does -- interpret the law. Which is why we have nominee hearings -- to get a sense of what their interpretations of the law would be based on their past record.

But, like all Supreme Court nominees, Alito has successfully dodged numerous questions regarding his past -- the underlying logic of his responses revolves around this concept that "the judge's only obligation is the rule of law." Sure, sounds nice, but it's far from self-explanatory.

Following Scotusblog's liveblogging coverage:
Alito is asked whether the Court was correct to "interject" itself into the 2000 Presidential election. Alito acknowledges that the question is unlikely to come up again, but that he "really doesn't know" whether the Court was correct in getting involved because he hasn't studied the question. Alito says that his "honest answer" is that he hasn't thought about it in a way that a judge would. Sen. Kohl is extremely skeptical that this is, in fact, an "honest answer."
Of course it's not an honest answer. He just doesn't want to offer his opinion in order to maintain this absurd image of being a neutral purveyor of The Immutable Law. Senate hearings of Supreme Court nominees seem to be little more than a game in which Senators either try to "trip up" the nominee by getting them to let slip an opinion and nominees are judged on how artfully they dodge the provocation. What have we really learned about Alito through the hearing that we didn't already know before?

Not a whole lot.

The only immutable thing here is Alito's past record. Read Robert Gordon's analysis of the record and its implications.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.