Senators Say Samuel Alito Will Face Tough Supreme Court Hearings

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 26, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senators Say Samuel Alito Will Face Tough Supreme Court Hearings Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 26, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has probably persuaded enough senators to support him and appears to have enough backing to stop a filibuster, but key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say January’s hearings on his nomination will still be rigorous.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a pro-abortion Pennsylvania Republican, said this week that Alito "has a whole panoply of cases that call for answers, and he’s got that 1985 letter."

That refers to the letter Alito wrote seeking a higher job in the Justice Department in the Reagan administration. In the letter, Alito said there was no right to abortion in the Constitution and he was glad to have worked with other Reagan officials to limit legal abortions.

"I think Alito is in a position where he has to answer more questions," Specter said, comparing his nomination with John Roberts, who had a relatively easy time with his confirmation vote.

Saying his nomination won’t be a "slam dunk" for President Bush, judicial panel member Sen. Charles Schumer, a pro-abortion New York Democrat, said "There are too many questions still to be answered, too many doubts still to be alleviated."

Cambridge University legal historian David Garrow told Knight Ridder news the 1985 letter makes Alito’s nomination different.

"That 1985 job application has changed things … and it is going to significantly change the content of the hearings," Garrow said.

Alito has already met with 66 of the 100 members of the Senate and been trying to persuade pro-abortion Republicans and more moderate Democrats to support him. After meeting with him, pro-abortion Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said the appeals court judge "did not repudiate" the 1985 memo but simply noted that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed its Roe v. Wade holding in subsequent court cases.

"My expectation is that Alito can handle abortion and the issue of precedent in a way that provides adequate reassurance for Specter, Snowe, (Rhode Island’s Lincoln) Chafee and (Maine’s Susan) Collins," Garrow said.

He will need to find 60 lawmakers to stop a filibuster in order to allow a vote on his nomination, though several members of the group of 14 lawmakers who agreed to the filibuster compromise earlier this year have said they won’t support a filibuster.