Senate Response to Samuel Alito Nomination Sees Partisan Divide

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 31, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Response to Samuel Alito Nomination Sees Partisan Divide Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 31, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Lawmakers in the nation’s capital on Monday reacted with a near ubiquitous partisan divide to President Bush’s nomination of pro-life appeals court Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Led by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, numerous pro-abortion Democrats expressed their deep disappointment at the nomination, mostly because of Alito’s stance against abortion.

Reid himself said the Senate would have to determine if Alito is "too radical for the American people."

"I look forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers," Reid said sarcastically after the president’s announcement.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and one of the leading abortion advocates on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Alito "controversial," and said he has questions about the judge’s record on abortion.

"It’s sad that [Bush] felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America," Schumer said. "The President seems to want to hunker down in his bunker."

Republicans on the other hand, applauded Alito’s nomination and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Fox News his party will do everything it can to move the nomination through the committee and floor process.

"If the Democrats look for a fight, we’ll be there ready to fight," he said.

With the Harriet Miers nomination, some pro-life Republican senators, notably Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, wished they had more information on her abortion views. Brownback appeared convinced that Alito’s nomination avoids that concern.

"What I’ve been hoping for is we would get nominees with a paper trail so we can know their views," said Brownback told the Associated Press.

With Republican control of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alito’s nomination would likely at least be approved there on a 10-9 party-line vote. What happens in the full Senate, where Republicans have a 55-45 majority, is more of a question.

The conclusion depends in part on a group of 14 Democrats and Republicans who agreed last spring to stop the filibusters against judicial nominees in addition for not changing the rules to prevent filibusters on judicial picks.

Pro-life Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, one of the "Gang of 14," rebuked his fellow Democrats Monday and said his party should give Alito a “fair and thorough hearing and we should withhold judgment until that process unfolds.”

Another member of the group, Arizona Republican John McCain, appeared to back Alito for the high court.

“I am pleased that the president has nominated Judge Samuel Alito to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Alito’s record is one of a thoroughly experienced, capable, and principled jurist and lawyer who has dedicated his professional life to public service,” McCain said.