Abortion Key to Samuel Alito Confirmation Hearings, Prep Goes Well

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Key to Samuel Alito Confirmation Hearings, Prep Goes Well Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 3, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito may not appear as polished and as authoritative as John Roberts, but he will display an "Everyman" approach that will be endearing and prove he can relate to Americans on a wide range of political issues. That’s the assessment of those who have seen Alito participate in practice hearings with White House officials.

"He is not going to be the well-manicured nominee," said one participant in the rehearsals, which involve White House attorneys acting as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"That is not to say it is going to be worse. It is just going to be different," the participant told the New York Times.

The committee will begin hearings Monday on Alito’s nomination to replace outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

How Alito will present himself before the panel and television cameras is unknown but observers say he has a tough act to follow in now-Chief Justice John Roberts.

A large factor in how Alito fares will relate to the issue of abortion. Roberts was quizzed about abortion — with Chairman Arlen Specter making it the subject of his first question — but the questions for Alito will be more intense.

That’s because Alito has a longer history on the issue than Roberts.

As a federal appeals court judge Alito has been involved in four abortion-related cases, including affirming a pro-life Pennsylvania law. Alito has a mixed record on other cases, though most observers say he was required to follow Supreme Court precedent on them.

Members of the judicial committee will also question Alito on two 1985 memos he wrote during his days in the Reagan Justice Department. In those he said he didn’t think abortion was a Constitutional right and he urged the administration to weigh in on a Supreme Court case to limit abortions.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat and one of the leading abortion advocates on the committee, told the New York Times that Democrats will be especially interested in Alito’s answers on abortion because he’s replacing a justice who has been the swing vote.

"I think the hearings will determine what at least the Democrats and even some moderate Republicans do in terms of how they vote and whether we should try to block his nomination, meaning filibuster," Schumer said.

In a 1985 application to become deputy assistant to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Alito wrote that he "personally believe[s] very strongly" in the legal position that abortion is not a right found in the Constitution.

In another memo, speaking of his service as an assistant to former Solicitor General Rex Lee, Alito wrote "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that … the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

While Roberts was able to dismiss some of his memos on abortion as the work of an attorney on behalf of his client, Democrats will seek to portray Alito’s memos as describing his personal opinion rather than representing the Reagan administration.

When asked, Alito has already told Specter that the memos represent his personal opinion but that personal attitudes won’t guide his decision-making on the Supreme Court.

When asked about the memos and other contentious issues, one participant in the prep hearings said Alito came across well.

"He will have a couple hairs out of place," the participant told the Times, but added Alito had a disarming Everyman appeal.

"I am not sure his glasses fit his facial features. He might not wear the right color tie. He won’t be tanned. He will look like he is from New Jersey, because he is. That is a very useful look, because it is a natural look. He’s able to go toe-to-toe with senators, and at the same time he could be your son’s Little League coach," the participant explained.