As senate confirmation hearings for would-be Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel Alito enter their second day, senators--particularly those on the left--have made it clear that abortion will be one of the judge’s most aggressively pressed issues.
While the battle seems clearly split down party lines, watchers on both sides of the debate admit that the abortion issue will likely pervade the entire confirmation process.
In his opening statements, Alito steered clear of controversial issues and said that a judge’s only obligation "is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires."
He said that as a federal appellate judge, "I swore that I would administer justice without respect to persons, that I would do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I would carry out my duties under the Constitution and the laws of the United States."
He added that “if I am confirmed, I pledge to you that that is what I would do on the Supreme Court."
Despite the conciliatory tone however, and the highest recommendation of the American Bar Association, many Senate democrats seemed unconvinced that Alito’s Reagan influence and Catholic faith would not prevail in his opinions.
Recently, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer warned senators that attacking Alito on the grounds of his Catholic faith would “only succeed in further aliening Roman Catholics who increasingly feel not wanted in a Democrat Party that seems to stand for nothing but abortion on demand.”
He cited what he called an “unrelenting campaign waged by many Senate Democrats, some who claim to be Catholics themselves, against Catholic judicial nominees who embrace and practice their Catholic faith…”
He said that the act “is disgraceful at best and at worst is a blatant form of religious bigotry reminiscent of a less civil period of history.”
Following yesterday’s opening statements, some, like Republican Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter feared that decisions--on both sides of the aisle--had already been made even before the first question was asked.
According to the Associated Press, he said that, "That applies to a few of the senators on my side of the aisle, but many more among the Democrats."
The senators made it particularly clear that Alito would be aggressively questioned on the issue of abortion and the so-called right to choose in the coming days and weeks.
Judge Alito was named prior to Thanksgiving as President Bush’s choice to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.