Cook On Concord: Bush’s new court nominee is no stealth candidate

Harriet Miers, the stealth candidate who read well on paper but fizzled in follow-up — whether through her own missteps or mismanagement by the President Bush’s team in presenting her — withdrew her candidacy for the Supreme Court and went back to being White House counsel in late October.

President Bush lost no time in naming a new and startlingly different choice in Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito. Here are some of the comparisons:

• Miers had never been a judge; Alito has been a judge for 15 years.

• Miers did not go to an Ivy League law school or college; Alito went to Princeton and Yale, where he performed at the top of his class.

• Miers was feared to be a stealth moderate (whatever that means); Alito is presumed to be a firm conservative.

• Right-wing Republican senators did not like Miers; they love Alito.

• Democratic senators spoke guardedly optimistic phrases about Miers as a choice; they are ready to fight Alito vigorously.

The process to come promises to be expensive, extensive, nasty and brutal. There is no shortage of published work for people to tear apart, although it is presumed that Alito’s decision in the Casey case, which involved spousal notification prior to abortion under a Pennsylvania statute found to be unconstitutional later by the U.S. Supreme Court, will become as familiar to those who follow these matters as is Roe v. Wade — especially Alito’s circuit court opinion, which would have upheld that notification requirement. Much will be made of the fact that Sandra Day O’Connor was in the majority overturning the statute.

So, is Alito “qualified”? Obviously, this depends on what that term means. He has been a circuit court judge for 15 years. He served in the solicitor general’s office and was a U.S. attorney. He has a great academic background and distinguished academic record.

On the other hand, he would be one of nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and, at age 55, very well could serve on that court for 25 years. So, as always, “qualification” is in the eye of the beholder.

What is clear is that the president has picked a very bright, experienced and serious candidate for the highest court, and senators will have to decide on what basis they support or oppose such nominations and discuss those reasons clearly if they are to reject a person with these credentials.


The Manchester area and New Hampshire lost a major figure when businessman and philanthropist Gerald Allard died unexpectedly Nov. 1 in Florida.

Gerry Allard took over Granite State Machine Company and built it into a major manufacturing conglomerate known as Allard Industries, keeping the primary production facility at its Manchester West Side location, where it is a neighborhood institution. He and his wife Ann raised a distinguished and talented family, which was and is close-knit, loyal and devoted as he was to them. Along the way, he shared his good fortune with the community, at one point purchasing the former Girls’ Club building and donating it to New Horizons for New Hampshire (the Manchester Soup Kitchen) and providing funds for its renovation as well.

That was only one of his philanthropic activities.

Perhaps the most notable element in Gerry Allard’s success was his unfailing good humor, broad smile and friendly demeanor, notwithstanding his success. Although he was one of the “Young Presidents Organization” members in the 1980s, often accused of being “masters of the universe,” some of whom fell from their pedestals, Gerry Allard never lost sight of where he came from or where he was going. He instilled those values in his family and was a loyal friend to those successful and otherwise.

His untimely death at 68 years of age deprives New Hampshire of a real star in its firmament; that passing should not go unnoticed.

Also recently departed was William House, well into his 80s and a retired insurance executive from Manchester. He also was involved in many causes, large and small, in his adopted hometown of Candia, his church in Manchester, the Humane Society and otherwise.

The strong turnout at his memorial service at Manchester’s First Congregational Church was a tribute to him, brought together many Manchester notables now in their 70s and 80s, and was filled with good humor and fond reflections.

Both Gerry Allard and Bill House are significant losses.

Brad Cook is a partner in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups.

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