by Steven Ertelt
January 30, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A pro-abortion Republican became the first GOP senator to announce his opposition to Samuel Alito, but the defection likely won’t stop Alito’s confirmation. Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island will vote against confirming the appeals court judge but will not support the filibuster attempt by a handful of Senate Democrats.
"Judge Alito has outstanding legal credentials and an inspiring life story," Chafee said in a statement his office release on Monday. "However, I am greatly concerned about his philosophy on some important constitutional issues."
Chafee said he wanted to support President Bush’s nominee to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, but he noted he favor abortion and Juge Alito wrote in two 1985 memos during his days in the Reagan administration that he saw no right to abortion in the Constitution.
Pro-life advocates called Chafee’s vote a pandering to pro-abortion interest groups that oppose Alito’s nomination.
"Senator Chafee’s announced opposition to Judge Alito is the worst possible form of pandering to liberal groups. In the mind of Senator Chafee, left-wing talking points take precedence over the highly regarded qualifications of a judicial nominee," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Chafee did indicate he will not support a filibuster and will vote with Republicans and a handful of Democrats this afternoon in stopping debate.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will put forward a cloture vote motion today that would end the debate and set up a vote on Alito’s confirmation on Tuesday.
Frist’s motion needs 60 votes and he has the backing of all 55 Republicans. Three Democrats are supporting Alito, including, Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and pro-life advocate Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Other Democrats, who plan to vote against Alito, will support Frist’s motion as well.
Also, after a second meeting with Alito, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota said he would oppose any filibuster and was "leaning in favor" of the high court nominee.
Despite not having the numbers to sustain a filibuster, Sen. Pat Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would join other Democrats in filibustering.