Samuel Alito Tells Senator He Struggled With Abortion Law Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Samuel Alito Tells Senator He Struggled With Abortion Law Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 3, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito told a leading Democrat on Wednesday in their private meeting that he struggled with his dissent in a 1991 case involving a Pennsylvania abortion law. In his dissent he said the spousal notification law should be upheld and the Supreme Court eventually overturned it.

Sen. Dick Durbin, a pro-abortion Illinois lawmaker, met with Alito yesterday as he’s making his rounds to meet with senators on both sides of the aisle.

Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, told reporters about Alito’s comments during the meeting.

"He said he had spent more time worrying and working over that decision than over any other decision he made when he was a judge," Durbin said.

Durbin said Alito told him he struggle with the "undue burden" standard the Supreme Court had begun setting up to determine if pro-life laws limiting abortion are constitutional. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the retiring pro-abortion justice Alito would replace, set up the constitutional evaluation, which more often than not ends up in overturning pro-life laws.

"He said it happened in the first year he was on the bench, and he said it was a tough decision to write because he had to decide what was an ‘undue burden’ on a woman seeking an abortion," Durbin said. "I told him I was glad to hear that because when I looked at it I struggled with how he had come to that."

Durbin’s account of the conversation was not disputed by a White House aide who accompanied Alito to the meeting.

Meanwhile, pro-abortion Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Alito told him he has told no one how he would vote on Roe v. Wade. Still, Leahy blasted Alito after the meeting saying the president had caved in to pro-life advocates and appointed someone they prefer.

"Why is it that the far right said she had to be withdrawn because they could not be sure how she would vote, but these same people within minutes of his nomination strongly favored him," Leahy asked about Alito and former nominee Harriet Miers.