Samuel Alito Backs Privacy But Not Abortion, Democrat Praises

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Samuel Alito Backs Privacy But Not Abortion, Democrat Praises Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 2, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Appeals court Judge Samuel Alito, who has been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, told a second senator that he backs the right to privacy established in a 1967 Supreme Court case that was the precursor to Roe v. Wade. However, he did not say that he backed the court’s misuse of the privacy right in the landmark 1973 decision.

Meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Alito told pro-abortion Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, that he backed the right to privacy. But Durbin told reporters Alito didn’t mention if he would apply that right to abortion.

"I think he believes in that fundamental right,” Durbin said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Alito won praise from the Senate’s only pro-life Democrat and one of the group of 17 lawmakers who participated in a filibuster compromise this Spring.

"At this point in time I have a comfort level that I’m satisfied with,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson said Wednesday. He indicated he was assured Alito wouldn’t be an activist on the Supreme Court but said he wants to learn more about Bush’s latest judicial pick before making a final decision.

"He assured me that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda, that he is not bringing a hammer and chisel to hammer away and chisel away on existing law," Nelson added.

Nelson’s group consisting of seven Republicans and seven Democrats, agreed to a compromise to stop filibusters on several of Bush’s pro-life appeals court picks in exchange for not changing Senate rules to prevent judicial filibusters.

Nelson said he hopes the group want have to get back together because of another filibuster.

"We all want to avoid having the Gang of 14 called into service on this,” he said. "We hope we don’t have a role. We hope the process will work.”

The group agreed to not filibuster any judicial nominee unless there were "extraordinary circumstances." Whether Alito’s abortion position would cause some pro-abortion lawmakers to filibuster and the group to come back together remains to be seen.

The group plans to meet with Alito on Thursday.

Nelson said he supports Alito’s 1991 decision to uphold a pro-life Pennsylvania law that required a wife to notify her husband about a potential abortion. He said he tried to pursue similar policies to limit abortion when he was Nebraska’s governor.

"I thought it was a legitimate effort by the state legislature, and, with my urging, to get those enhancements in place because I thought it was the role of the state to do so,” Nelson said. "It is pretty clear that judge Alito feels similarly.”

Durbin said Alito told him that dissent was "a tough decision" to write.

"He spent more time worrying over, and working on, that dissent than any other” opinion he ever wrote,” Durbin said. "I was glad to hear that.”