Samuel Alito Draws Distinction Between Personal, Judicial Abortion Views

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

Samuel Alito Draws Distinction Between Personal, Judicial Abortion Views Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 2, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito met with Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter for an hour today after Senate Democrats condemned the latest of two legal memos he wrote during his days with the Reagan administration opposing abortion.

As Chief Justice John Roberts did during his confirmation process, Alito said the two memos, showing him opposing abortion and saying there is no right to abortion in the Constitution, represented his views an advocate in the Reagan administration.

Alito drew a distinction between those and his personal views and he said he would not let his personal views dictate how he would rule on abortion cases.

In a press conference held after the meeting, Specter told the media that "with respect to his personal views on a woman’s right to choose, he says that that is not a matter to be considered in the deliberation on a constitutional issue of a woman’s right to choose. The judicial role is entirely different."

Specter told reporters that Alito "raised a sharp distinction between his role as an advocate and his role as a judge."

He told the media Alito told him he was "functioning as an advocate" when he wrote one 1985 memo advising legal strategy on a Supreme Court abortion case and another memo in which he was angling for a higher job within the Justice Department.

Specter also said Alito told him he understood that abortion was becoming embedded in the culture the longer it remains legal, though that may not have any bearing on whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade or not.

Specter said Alito should be given a fair chance to answer questions during his confirmation hearings in early January before skeptical senators come to a conclusion about him. An abortion advocate, Specter admitted he is undecided how he will vote.

Specter said he would remain undecided on the nomination "till I hear Judge Alito’s testimony, observe his demeanor."

As was the case with Roberts, Specter said his first question for Alito would have to do with abortion and he is the first member of the committee allowed to question the nominee.

The White House arranged the meeting with Alito and Specter in order to help diffuse criticism over the abortion memos. Senate Democrats have said they’re very concerned but have not hinted whether they will filibuster his nomination.

The hearings on Alito begin in early January and a full Senate vote is expected January 20.