Senate Confirms Judge Alito as 110th U.S. Supreme Court Justice
The Senate on Tuesday voted 58-42 to approve the confirmation of nominee Judge Samuel Alito as the 110th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the New York Times reports (Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 2/1). Fifty-four Republicans and four Democrats -- Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) -- voted to confirm Alito. Forty Democrats, one Republican -- Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) -- and one independent -- Sen. James Jeffords (Vt.) -- voted against Alito's confirmation (Perine, CQ Today, 1/31).
President Bush in October 2005 nominated Alito to replace O'Connor. 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 (California Healthline, 10/31/05).
Tuesday's vote was the closest confirmation vote for a Supreme Court justice since Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991 by a vote of 52-48, according to USA Today (Kiely, USA Today, 2/1).
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on the judiciary committee and supports abortion rights, said, "I am very concerned about the impact Judge Alito could have on women's rights," adding, "It is my belief that this nominee's legal philosophy and views will essentially swing the court far out of the mainstream" (Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, 2/1).
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's nomination has prompted "a lot of anxiety" about abortion rights because the court has been closely divided on the issue, adding, "I share that anxiety." However, he said that justices sometimes change their earlier views when ruling in Supreme Court cases (USA Today, 2/1).
Bush said in a statement, "Alito is a brilliant and fair-minded judge who strictly interprets the Constitution and law and does not legislate from the bench," adding, "He is a man of deep character and integrity" (Babington, Washington Post, 2/1).
- NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on how Alito's confirmation could shift the composition of the court and affect future cases that could come before the court, including those involving abortion rights (Totenberg, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/31). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- In addition, NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on senators' reactions to the confirmation, including their thoughts on how he might rule in cases involving abortion rights. The segment includes comments from Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), and Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) (Welna, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/31). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.