Bush Nominates Alito to U.S. Supreme Court
President Bush on Monday morning nominated 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Washington Post reports.
In 1991, Alito was the lone dissenter on a 3rd Circuit Court panel's decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to strike down a provision in a Pennsylvania law that would have required married women seeking abortions to first notify their spouses (Barbash/Baker, Washington Post, 10/31). "The Pennsylvania Legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands' knowledge because of perceived problems -- such as economic constraints, future plans or the husbands' previously expressed opposition -- that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion," Alito wrote in his dissent.
The Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling upheld the 3rd Circuit Court's ruling to strike down the law, and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist quoted Alito in his dissent in the case (Fournier, AP/Yahoo! News, 10/31).
In the same case, Alito joined his colleagues on the panel in upholding other provisions in the law that require doctors to inform women of the potential "medical dangers" of abortion and about alternatives to the procedure (Washington Post, 10/31).
Bush earlier this month nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace O'Connor, but Miers on Thursday morning officially withdrew her nomination. O'Connor has agreed to remain on the court until her successor is confirmed (Hunt, AP/Yahoo! News, 10/27).
Alito, who has served as an appellate judge since 1990, served as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1987 to 1990, deputy assistant attorney general for the Reagan administration from 1985 to 1987 and assistant to the solicitor general from 1981 to 1985 (Cassata, AP/ABC News, 10/31). He has been called "Scalito" by some attorneys for a supposed similarity to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but many observers believe the nickname "greatly oversimplifies his record," according to the Post (Washington Post, 10/31).
"Most of the labels people use to talk about judges and the way judges decide (cases) aren't too descriptive," Alito said in a May 2005 profile in the Newark Star-Ledger, adding, "Judges should be judges. They shouldn't be legislators, they shouldn't be administrators" (AP/ABC News, 10/31).
Bush, who appeared with Alito at the White House to make the announcement, called Alito a "thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion," adding, "I'm confident that the United States Senate will be impressed by Judge Alito's distinguished record, his measured judicial temperament and his tremendous personal integrity" (Holland, Reuters, 10/31).
Alito's nomination is expected to "win praise from Bush's allies on the right," but some Democrats have "served notice" that the nomination will "spark a partisan brawl," the AP/Yahoo! News reports (AP/Yahoo! News, 10/31).
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said the Senate will have to determine if Alito is "too radical for the American people," adding, "I look forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers" (Reuters, 10/31).