The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved the nomination of Samuel Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 10-to-8 party-line vote sent Alito's nomination to the full Senate, where he could be confirmed possibly this week.
The Judiciary Committee voted only after each of the 18 members had delivered extended remarks that lasted almost three hours, reported the Times.
Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a pro-abortion supporter, said he was satisfied by Alito’s answers, even those concerning a “woman’s right to choose” and would vote for him.
Before becoming a federal judge in New Jersey, Alito had written that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided" and had laid out a strategy to dismantle it, reported the Times. But during his confirmation hearings, Alito said he was simply articulatning the views and policies of the Reagan administration. He did not say whether he accepted the judgment as "settled law."
"He did not say what his ultimate decision would be, as he should not, because no nominee ought to be asked to decide in advance how he is going to rule on any specific case," Specter was quoted as saying in the Times.
Other senators voiced their “concerns” about Alito’s “strong views” and their fears that he would tip the high court’s balance further to the right on a variety of social issues.
A number of groups, such as the Christian Legal Society and Concerned Women forAmerica commended the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving Alito’s nomination and called for a swift up-or-down vote without reasonable delay or filibuster.
However, while the Democrats’ generally oppose Alito, they lack the votes in the Senate to mount a filibuster.
"Judge Alito displayed amazing temperament and brilliance in the law in both his written and oral testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee.” said the Christian Legal Society’s executive director, Samuel Casey. He noted that Alito answered over 700 questions in three days of testimony – more than any prior Supreme Court nominee.
“His qualifications and record have won the endorsement of many of the nations top liberal newspapers. He has the support of the liberal American Bar Association, which has given him its highest rating,” he continued.
Gregory Baylor, director of Christian Legal Society's Center for Law & Religious Freedom, also noted that as Third Circuit Court judge, Alito “correctly interpreted and applied the First Amendment's religion clauses.
"Judge Alito appears to understand that the Constitution protects the religious exercise rights of all Americans," he stated.