For a man reported to have such a sharp legal mind, Judge Samuel Alito was certainly comfortable with his own ignorance, saying, “I don’t know” 29 times during the hearings.

Despite the Democrats’ strip-searching of Alito’s written record, we Americans don’t know much more about Alito than we did before. Will he vote to overturn Roe or respect it as settled law? We don’t know. Does he believe there are limits to executive power or not? We don’t know. Is he the most boring man in the universe or simply willing to play him on TV? We don’t know.

What we do know is that something as momentous as the future course of the Supreme Court may rest more on the tears of the nominee’s spouse than the (sometimes pontificating) questioning of the Senate Judiciary committee.

From Abu Ghraib to NSA spying, from the Cheney Energy Commission to the true cost of the prescription drug benefit, we’ve learned that it’s what the Bush administration doesn’t want us to know that hurts us. Add Alito’s judicial philosophy to that long and growing list of state secrets.