Well, there isn’t much out there specifically on Alito’s environmental record. It’s fairly clear where he’s coming from, though.

This is a classically Bushian (Roveian?) maneuver. Alito is a big fat red flag on the abortion issue, waved in front of both sides’ bulls. You can bet the sturm und drang of the coming weeks will focus almost exclusively on abortion and other social-conservative issues. This is the fight the Angry White Men of Bush’s base want, and it’s a fight for which abortion-rights defenders are perpetually geared up.

Meanwhile, as Brad Plumer astutely notes, the real story here is that Alito is a favorite of the business community. As with his constitution-in-exile brethren, he can be expected to take every opportunity to limit the ability of Congress to regulate the private sector. No doubt he has deep philosophical justifications for this pattern of rulings, but of course in practice he’ll just be another soldier in the corporatist army. The political party he’ll be enabling has no interest in small or limited government.

It’s possible to imagine Bush nominating a business-friendly judge that isn’t hardcore on social-conservative issues — indeed, it could be argued that both Roberts and Miers fit that bill. But can you imagine Bush nominating someone who’s hardcore on social-conservative issues but soft on federalism, the commerce clause, and other biz-related issues? The question answers itself.

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Why the Republican base allows itself to be played again and again by an administration whose central and only real allegiance is to corporate cronyism is an enduring mystery. But progressives shouldn’t take their eye off the ball.

(It’s worth noting that not everyone thinks federal regulation is necessary to protect the environment. Some folks think it does more harm than good. But if you, along with most mainstream greens — indeed, most of the American public — believe the excesses of capitalism require some restraint, it’s fair to characterize Alito as anti-environmental.)

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