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Nominee #3: Samuel Alito

Alito_1 Just days after his first choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was forced to withdraw from the running, President George W. Bush has nominated a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, Samuel Alito, to the nation's highest court. (Read the full text of the president's and the nominee's remarks here.)

I recognized his name instantly for, as PA Liberal blogger Samantha writes, "Alito's most famous dissenting opinion as a judge came when he said he would uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking an abortion to tell their husbands on the grounds that it did not impose an "undue burden." More here and here on Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Indeed, the abortion issue, rather than being shrouded behind a film of stare decisis, is front-and center now. (Witness this pro-Alito/pro-Bush press release today by the Liberty Counsel, a group with close ties to Rev. Jerry Falwell that refused to support Miers, and this anti-Alito/anti-Bush press release today by the National Abortion Rights Action League. )

For the first time since the president first picked his lawyer for the job, the righty spectrum of blawggers sound united in their compliments of Bush's second third nominee. "I'm very pleased," blogs Volokh Conspirator Orin Kerr, who was joined quickly by co-conspirator Todd Zywicki ("Outstanding pick"). "I think it's a great choice," blogs professor Bainbridge. "A committed conservative whose track record earned him the nickname Scalito ... Altio [sic] wasn't my first choice either (Mike McConnell was). But this is a solid pick that should unite the base behind it."

Indeed, the base is singing a very different tune: "O Happy Day!" writes Carol on Confirmthem.com, the online community for conservative foot soldiers who rioted over Miers from the get-go. "So he's been confirmed by the Senate twice, has impeccable credentials, and a history as a crime-fighter . . . as U.S. Attorney, he prosecuted white collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime and civil rights violations. Oh, yes -- and he's a member of the Federalist Society. Dems -- filibuster this!"

Indeed, lefty blawggers are sounding the alarm. Thinkprogress.org, the liberal alternative to Confirmthem.com, lists a litany of decisions here as the basis for its editors' claims (in all caps) that "Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade ... allow race-based discrimination ... allow disability-based discrimination ... strike down the Family and Medical Leave Act ... [and] is hostile to immigrants and supports unauthorized strip searches." It's a view shared by the National Women's Law Center, where co-prez Marcia Greenberger today said, "Instead of naming a consensus nominee, President Bush has opted to pick someone who meets the far right’s ideological litmus test." On Blackprof, Adrien Wing laments the message sent by halving the number of women jurists on the Supreme Court.

"Dad's appellate judge becomes the son's Supreme Court justice," blogs Norm Pattis, in Et Tu, "Scalito?", a nod to Alito's successful judicial appointment by the first President George Bush. "And we get the ghost of Rehnquist inhabiting the philosophic zoot suit of Antonin Scalia. Go nuclear? You bet. I'm heading for a bomb shelter. This is the candidate conservatives have been hoping for, and I predict that they'll have enough votes to see this nominee confirmed."

Judge Alito indeed has lots of buddies, Democratic buddies, in the United States Senate, thanks to his previous confirmation-related tours of Capitol Hill. Check out this list posted on Confirmthem.com: In "Dems who voted for Alito," posted on Oct. 28, Blogger krempasky writes:

"So to follow up on Erick’s mention of Alito -- I thought it might be instructive to take a look back to Judge Alito’s first confirmation -- in April of 1990. He was confirmed by unanimous consent -- reported favorably from the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee by none other than Joe Biden. Better yet -- nineteen currently serving Senate Democrats were part of that unanimous consent ..."

Read the full list of Democratic senators still in office who voted for Alito here.

A few blawggers are moving past politics to dig into the positions Alito has taken on constitutional issues from the bench, a discussion impossible in re: White House Counsel Miers' record, since she has never worked as a judge. "I am glad to see Bush not shy away from a person with a real judicial record," blogs Ann Althouse:

"The abortion case will surely get the most attention, but issues about religion and the Constitution should come to the fore as well. Alito will, if confirmed, replace Sandra Day O'Connor, and her swing-vote role was especially influential in the cases about the religion clauses. From the little I'm seeing here about Alito, he has a marked sympathy to pleas for accommodation from members of minority religions -- a tendency that alone should shake off the nickname Scalito. (See Scalia's majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith.) I look forward to a serious analysis of constitutional law issues and intend to do my part correcting distortions as various critics and proponents tear into his record."

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Posted by Laurel Newby on October 31, 2005 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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