by Steven Ertelt
January 12, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Appeals court Judge Samuel Alito appears to be headed towards being confirmed to replace pro-abortion retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Though pro-abortion lawmakers are still talking of a possible filibuster and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee could delay the vote for a week, Alito enjoys the support of virtually all Republicans and some Democrats.
"I enthusiastically endorse and support Judge Alito’s nomination," pro-life Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said Thursday.
At least one Democrat, pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson, also of Nebraska, said, "So far I have seen nothing during my interview with the nominee, the background materials that have been produced or through the committee process that I would consider a disqualifying issue against Judge Alito."
With 55 Republicans likely to support Alito, just five more are needed to make it a filibuster-proof vote. That’s enough for some supporters to declare victory.
”You’re going to serve as an outstanding justice on the United States Supreme Court, and I will be supporting you here in the committee and on the floor,” pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas told Alito during the hearing.
Yet, a filibuster hasn’t been ruled out.
"We can only afford to lose five senators favoring Judge Alito before a filibuster is impossible," pro-abortion Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, told ABC News.
"It’s a very tight margin, and I’m not going to presume one way or the other whether my colleagues are even interested in it," he said.
Democrats plan to meet next week to discuss Alito’s nomination and Democratic Leader Harry Reid told ABC News, "We have not ruled out extended debate. We haven’t ruled it in."
Abortion may be a crucial factor in what is decided.
”Many people will leave this hearing with a question as to whether or not you could be the deciding vote that would eliminate the legality of abortion,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told Alito.
"The evidence before us makes it hard for us to vote yes," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a leading pro-abortion Democrat on the panel, added.
To succeed, Democrats will likely need the help of the handful of pro-abortions Republicans who have mostly voted in favor of President Bush’s judicial picks and supported the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republicans, would not say how he would vote.
"I really want to see the process through," Chafee said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I’m not going to tip my hand until the whole hearings are concluded. … I want to hear all the evidence and be an impassive juror."
Senators on the judicial panel plan to meet on Tuesday to discuss Alito’s nomination, and Chairman Arlen Specter has said he wants the committee to vote that day. Democrats could still press for a week-long delay, exercising their right to hold the nomination.
If the committee approves Alito’s nomination, the full Senate could begin debate as early as next Wednesday with a final vote coming, as previously planned, on Friday, January 20.
Should the Senate vote then to approve Alito, he would become what pro-life groups hope will be the fourth vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which will turn 33 years old just two days later.