Senate Debates Samuel Alito Supreme Court Bid, Abortion Top Issue

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Debates Samuel Alito Supreme Court Bid, Abortion Top Issue Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 25, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Abortion was again a leading issue as members of the Senate debated federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, he will replace retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Opening the debate, Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist called Alito "exceptionally qualified."

"I support Judge Alito because he has a record that demonstrates a respect for judicial restraint and aversion to political agendas on the bench and a commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution," Frist said. "There is no question that Judge Alito is well-qualified."

Senate Democrats said Alito’s position on abortion was a key reason for opposing him. The pointed to two 1985 memos he wrote saying he didn’t think a right to abortion existed in the Constitution and favoring the eventual reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, said that anyone who favors abortion "cannot vote for Judge Alito. It’s really that simple."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who announced his position on Alito on Tuesday, added that he worried the "right to privacy would be in jeopardy because he has said that he opposes Roe v. Wade."

Frist said Democrats were "smearing a decent and honorable man in imposing an unfair political standard on all judicial nominees."

Despite the attacks from Democrats and the likelihood that Alito will receive much fewer votes than the 78 Chief Justice John Roberts got last year, Democrats did not appear interested in launching a filibuster.

Though some of the more moderate Democrats may vote against him, some have said that nothing warrants a filibuster of Alito. They would join with the 55 Republicans in opposing such a move.

The final vote may be closer, however, with just 50 Republican lawmakers and pro-life Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announcing public support for Alito thus far.

According to an AP tally, four Republicans, 23 Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont were still publicly undecided. Alito met with Sens. Patty Murray and Jay Rockefeller on Wednesday with hopes of getting their votes.

TAKE ACTION: Make your views about Judge Alito’s noination known by contacting your senators. You can reach them by going to: