Alito, bespectacled, hair askew, suit rumpled and ill-fitting, walked into Sen. Tim Johnson's office this week to pay a courtesy call on the South Dakota Democrat. Sitting in an armchair in the senator's office, Alito forgot to unbutton his suit jacket, causing his tie to stick out and his jacket to bunch up. The judge's pant leg hiked up as he sat, revealing an untied shoelace.
Professor Bainbridge and his commenters object to the story. I'll put in a vote for disagreeing. I don't mind a little gossip in addition to the substance, and I found it humanizing to learn that Alito isn't as smooth as John Roberts.
In the Kremlinology of figuring out what senators are thinking, it's a relevant and interesting detail that Alito is so unkempt—especially since I heard more than one Washington person argue that some of my favorite candidates couldn't hope to be nominated or confirmed because they were too "awkward" to play the political game well.
So long as stories like this are a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, hard journalism, I don't mind. I'd rather have this than another "he said, she said" story misrepresenting Alito's opinion in Casey.