Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination

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President George W. Bush announces that Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. is his Supreme Court nomination during a press conference on October 31, 2005

On October 31, 2005, Samuel Alito was nominated by President George W. Bush for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito had been a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 1990 when he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush, until he was approved by the Senate on January 31, 2006, and sworn in to be the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court.

White House announcement and interviews[edit]

In announcing Alito's nomination, Bush stated, "He's scholarly, fair-minded and principled and these qualities will serve him well on the highest court in the land. [His record] reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion. He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people." [9] Alito, in accepting the nomination, said, "Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system. And I pledge that if confirmed I will do everything within my power to fulfill that responsibility." [10]

Alito was initially interviewed for the job June 24, 2001, by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. He was again interviewed May 5, 2005, by Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, Karl Rove, White House Counsel Harriet Miers and the Vice President's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. President Bush interviewed him in person on July 14, 2005. [11]

Confirmation Hearing[edit]

On November 3, 2005, Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee outlined the prospective time line for the Alito hearing and voting, scheduling the Committee's opening statements for January 9, 2006, with the hearings expected to last five days. A committee vote was to be held on January 17, and the vote of the full Senate on the nomination was to be held January 20, which would have been nearly a month later than desired by President Bush, who had pushed for a confirmation vote to be held by Christmas.

On January 9, Judiciary Committee members presented opening statements, and questioning by members began on January 10; questioning continued until January 12, after which witness statements continued until January 13. On January 16, Senator Specter's office announced that the committee vote would take place one week later than originally planned, on January 24, with the full Senate to take up debate on the nomination the following day.

Day 2 (Jan. 10)[edit]

Committee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) addressed the unitary executive theory. He asked Alito about his understanding of the Truman Steel Seizure case -- Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. Specter then asked about the (newly mentioned by Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court) theory of super precedent. In a humorous motion Arlen Specter said super-duper precedent as regards the Casey case.

Alito was questioned about his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, described in some media reports as a racist, sexist organization that sought to restrict the admission of women and minorities to the private institution. When questioned by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about his involvement, Alito claimed to have no memory of being a member of the group. However, in his 1985 ‘Personal Qualifications Statement’ when applying to be an Assistant Attorney General, he listed his membership in CAP as a qualification. Leahy stated "I can't believe at age 35 when applying for a job" that he couldn't know. It was subsequently pointed out by several Senators that several alumni of Princeton, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) had publicly deplored the group's activity. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) pointed out that Alito was not an officer of CAP. He also asked Alito "Are you against the admission of women or minorities?" Alito replied "Absolutely not, Senator. No".[12]

Alito did not immediately recuse himself from a case involving the low-cost mutual-fund company Vanguard. Senator Hatch addressed this issue. Senator Hatch quoted the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary after investigating the Vanguard nonrecusal as saying, "Judge Alito ... is of the highest ethical standing." Alito then was allowed to explain the facts of the Vanguard case. Alito asserted that he abided by Section 455 of Title 28. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) reminded Alito that he had testified that he would recuse himself during his 3rd Circuit Court confirmation. Alito said that it was a pro se case (meaning it was not argued by a lawyer). He stated that the court handles pro se cases differently from cases argued by lawyers. He said that the recusal forms are different. The Vanguard case, he said, did not come to him with "clearance sheets," just the sides briefs. "When this case came to me, I didn't focus on recusal," he said. On appeal, a recusal motion came to him and he then stated that he had "gone to the Code" and did not feel he needed to recuse. He stated that he decided to recuse himself and requested that his decision on the case be vacated. He said that his procedure for pro se cases now uses red sheets for recusals, to avoid missing them.

Seeking to allay liberals' fears of creeping federalism that could hamstring Congress as in United States v. Lopez, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked Alito about the required interstate nexus before a federal statute can be applied. Alito explained that in his experience as United States Attorney, federal gun crime statutes can satisfy the required jurisdictional element by saying that the gun must have been transported in interstate commerce. Senator Sessions tried to do damage control over the controversial Garrett v. Alabama case that the conservative 5-4 majority used to grant more states' rights via their federalism jurisprudence holding that Congress may not grant a state citizen the right to sue his or her own state for money damages. Senator Sessions asked about Alito's views on the reading of foreign legal precedents, allowing Alito to express his support for Antonin Scalia's well-known opposition to the consideration of foreign law in crafting opinions by U.S. judges. Alito said "I don't think that foreign law is helpful in interpreting the Constitution... There are other legal issues that come up in which I think it's legitimate to look to foreign law."

Sessions then allowed Alito to give his opinion on the case involving the strip search of a ten-year-old girl (Doe v. Groody) that opponents had highlighted as showing what they viewed as Alito's extreme deference to authority (in this case the right of the police to interpret a search warrant for a suspected drug dealer's premises as authorizing them to strip-search the man's wife and daughter).

Senator Sessions also highlighted Alito's ruling in favor of abortion rights in at least one case.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Alito questions about enemy combatants, and the Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld v. Padilla cases. Graham asked whether there have ever been any cases in which a foreign non-citizen soldier/fighter brought suit in a U.S. court. Alito was asked whether any enemy prisoner of war ever brought a federal habeas corpus case. There were two cases, the Six Saboteurs, Ex parte Quirin where even U.S. citizens are not entitled to federal courts but allowed only military tribunals. Then the second case involving six Germans caught assisting Japanese (Johnson v. Eisentrager) who were sent to Germany; they brought an unsuccessful habeas corpus case. They were held "not [in] U.S. territory". Graham said, "We don't let people trying to kill us sue us." Alito said that "[he] wouldn't put it" so strongly. Alito said that we also need to take note of Ex Parte Milligan from the Civil War. Senator Graham disagreed. Alito agreed with Senator Graham that the military has expertise on who is and who is not a prisoner of war. However, the treatment of detainees, according to Graham, is a different matter. Senator Graham asked whether Alito is proud of the fact that the USA is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. Senator Graham asked whether if someone were caught whether here or abroad a la Hamdan the Geneva Convention would give the prisoner a private right of action. Senator Graham pointed out that where he differed from some others is on the question of torture. Graham asked whether any President can disregard the federal statute against torture—making it a crime—even in war. Alito said "the President is not above the law."

On the question of what a Strict constructionist is, Alito again agreed with Senator Graham, stating it was a judge who did not make it up. Senator Graham asked whether a President who interprets the Congressional authorization for the Use of Force as giving him the right to wire-tap without getting a FISA warrant is ... Senator Graham said that his point a la Justice Jackson (in the Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer case) was not aimed at Alito but "at the audience". Senator Graham is worried about the "chilling effect" of a President who goes too far, leaving Congress gun-shy about granting the executive branch the "Use of Force" (i.e. declining to pass a War Resolution). Graham hinted at the 60-vote requirement for breaking a so-called filibuster (actually invoking cloture). Alito did not take the bait over whether any statute or rule could be made to overrule the simple majority that the Constitution requires for confirming a Supreme Court Justice.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked Alito whether statements in his 1985 ‘Personal Qualifications Statement’ when applying to be an Assistant Attorney General under Pres. Ronald Reagan represented his views at the time and also whether they represent his views today. Alito gave an evasive answer about stare decisis.[citation needed] Senator Schumer responded, stating that Alito had stated forthrightly that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion". Senator Schumer said that "it's important that you (Alito) give an answer." Alito replied that if a case involving abortion rights came up, he would use a judicial process. Senator Schumer rejoined ... "I'm not asking about a process;.... Do you still believe it?" Senator Schumer remarked "I'm not asking you about case law". Senator Schumer then asked whether the "Constitution protects the right of free speech" whereupon Alito agreed. Senator Schumer then compared that question with the question of whether the Constitution protects the right to an abortion. Senator Schumer then made an elliptical comment about hypothetical in-laws. Senator Schumer said that he didn't expect Alito to answer the abortion question. Senator Schumer mentioned the National League of Cities v. Usery case and how it was overruled by Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority and how Lawrence v. Texas overruled Bowers v. Hardwick and Brown v. Board of Education overruled Plessy v. Ferguson. So Alito agreed that stare decisis is not inviolate. Senator Schumer made allusions to Justice Clarence Thomas's views on stare decisis, which he claimed included a call for Buckley v. Valeo, Calder v. Bull and a long string of cases establishing Supreme Court precedent to be overturned.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) characterized Senator Schumer's questioning as of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" style and remarked that if Senator Schumer can mention in-laws, he can mention a wife. Senator Cornyn said that the word "abortion" is not in the Constitution; Alito said, "The word that appears in the Constitution is liberty." He further claimed that "There is no express reference to privacy in the Constitution. But it is protected by the Fourth Amendment and in certain circumstances by the First Amendment and in certain circumstances by the Fifth and the 14th Amendments."

Day 3 (Jan. 11)[edit]

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) pressed Alito to either agree or disagree with a statement by Chief Justice John Roberts that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was "settled law." Alito would not agree, stating that it was a matter that could come before the court, and that "it is an issue that is involved in litigation now at all levels." He did say, "When a decision is challenged and reaffirmed, it increases its value. The more times it happens, the more respect it has." Senator Durbin suggested there seemed to be inconsistency between Alito's unequivocal support for the unspecified right to desegregated schools in Brown v. Board of Education from the equal protection clause and his refusal to do the same for the Griswold case from the liberty clause. Durbin also questioned Alito further regarding his membership in Concerned Alumni for Princeton, and Alito again denied remembering any details about his membership in the organization.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) countered with a recommendation from a former law clerk who was a member of the ACLU. On checks and balances, Brownback then asked Alito about the power of Congress to limit the federal courts' jurisdiction in the Exceptions Clause as in Ex Parte McCardle.

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) cited a Washington Post analysis of 221 cases where there was a 2-1 judicial split in decisions on Civil Rights cases, which found that Alito sided against 3 out of every 4 plaintiffs who claimed discrimination, a much higher rate than that of similar judges. Alito said that the sample was skewed because most of the cases were from District Court where the plaintiff lost.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) had a heated exchange after Kennedy called for the committee to subpoena records of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (a controversial group[citation needed] of which Alito was a member). There was some argument between the two senators over whether Kennedy had previously made this request to Specter via mail. This issue was later resolved during a recess when Specter was reminded that he had dismissed it as "unmeritorious." William A. Rusher, one of CAP's founders and former publisher of National Review, released the CAP records later this day.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told Alito that he was "concerned that you may be retreating from part of your record." Leahy continued, "A number of us have been troubled by what we see as inconsistencies in some of the answers."

Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) then mentioned his concern on the Americans with Disabilities Act that the Olmsted case in 1999, in which the Supreme Court held that the state must offer disabled people access to all public facilities and programs. DeWine asked Alito if he would reconsider his decision in the earlier Helen L case in the motion for rehearing.

DeWine asked about antitrust, where many hospitals buy using GPOs (group purchasing organizations) to get discounts. This results in smaller companies having a hard time getting into the business. He asked about the famous bundling case 3M v. LePage, in which Alito dissented (the majority found against 3M). DeWine then asked about the fact that many clauses are written in the general terms of Unlawful Search and Seizure, Cruel and Unusual... how would Alito as a Justice know whether he was following the Constitution or whether he was making policy. Alito mentioned stare decisis and used the Terry stop search and "administrative search" and the "border search" as examples of how to follow what was done before.

DeWine then mentioned the fact pattern of the Gilleo case where homeowners were restricted on the size and type of lawn signs that they could display. He asked Alito what factors he would use to decide how to restrict speech in the public square. Alito said that the Forum Doctrine has been developed to address speech in public. DeWine asked about "commercial speech" in Pitt News where Alito struck down a local speech restricting rule. Alito said that "sufficient tailoring" was used as the standard for invalidating the ordinance that applied only to the Pitt News and not to other papers.

Day 4 (Jan. 12)[edit]

The scheduled final day of committee questioning began at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) began by recounting the review of records relating to CAP by committee staff along with staff members of Kennedy. He noted that no mention of Judge Alito was found in any of the documents. The documents included contributor lists and subscriber lists for the organization's magazine, Prospect. The Senator also noted that the organization's founder stated, "I have no recollection of Samuel Alito at all. He certainly was not very heavily involved in CAP, if at all." Specter then yielded to Leahy for an opening statement before starting Leahy's allotted time.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questioned Alito on subjects ranging from the death penalty to the right to die, later telling reporters "I continue to be worried -- and I pressed the questions again today, as I have all week long,...He is not clear that he would serve to protect America's fundamental rights."

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) began his questioning of Alito by asking him about his comment that "The concept of a unitary executive does not have to do with the scope of executive power," asserting that this comment was contradictory to others made by Alito. Kennedy again questioned Alito on his recusal list as a member of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals with regard to the Vanguard case. There is some dispute as to when the Vanguard companies were added to Alito's recusal list. Kennedy went on to say "[Alito] has failed to give us any plausible explanation."

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) initiated his allotted 20 minutes of questioning by asking Alito if the president has the authority to "invade Iran tomorrow without getting permission from the people, from the United States Congress, absent him being able to show there's an immediate threat to our national security?" Alito responded to Senator Biden's questioning with "... what I can tell you is that I have not studied these authorities and it is not my practice to just express an opinion on a constitutional question including particularly one that is as momentous as this."

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) asked Alito, "Do you think that the courts need to consider public opinion when deciding cases?"—to which Alito responded, "I think that the courts were structured the way they are so that they would not decide their cases based on public opinion." Kohl went on to ask, "Should judges be term-limited? Should judges, at least, be age-limited?" Alito responded, "I didn't think we should look to foreign law in interpreting our Constitution, [but] I don't see a problem in looking to the practices of foreign countries in the way they organize their constitutional courts." When asked how he differs from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Alito said, "I would try to emulate her dedication and her integrity and her dedication to the case-by-case process of adjudication, which is what I think the Supreme Court and the other federal courts should carry out. I think that is a central feature of best traditions of our judicial system."

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Alito on the separation of powers and the Constitutional limits on executive authority. The questioning of Alito continued with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). After a brief recess, questioning continued with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) yielding their time before going into closed executive session.

Witness Testimony[edit]

Witness testimony began with the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary after the scheduled lunch recess at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Day 5 (Jan. 13)[edit]

Witness testimony continued.

Nomination issues[edit]

Conflict of interest question[edit]

On a questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee in his Third Circuit Court-of-Appeals confirmation process in 1990, Alito said he would avoid a conflict of interest by not voting on cases involving First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, NY, and two investment firms, Smith Barney and Vanguard Group, because he held accounts with them. However, in 2002, Alito upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit filed against multiple investment company defendants, including Vanguard Group. When notified of the situation, Alito denied doing anything improper but recused himself from further involvement in the case. The case was reheard with the new panel coming to the same conclusion.

On November 10, Judge Alito wrote to Senator Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his participation in the case.[1] He said that when he had originally listed Vanguard and Smith Barney in 1990, "my intention was to state that I would never knowingly hear a case where a conflict of interest existed. [...] As my service continued, I realized that I had been unduly restrictive."

During witness testimony of Alito's confirmation hearings, witness John Payton (member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary) testified: "In the end, he did acknowledge that it was his responsibility that a mistake and error had been made. Those cases should have been caught and he should have not heard those cases."

American Bar Association Rating[edit]

Alito was rated by the American Bar Association as “Well Qualified”, which is the ABA's highest recommendation. In a letter[2] to the Judiciary Committee, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, Stephen Tober, reviewed Alito's failure to recuse himself in Vanguard and Smith Barney matters, and a third case where a conflict was alleged. Tober concluded:

We accept [Alito's] explanation and do not believe these matters reflect adversely on him... On the basis of our interviews with Judge Alito and with well over 300 judges, lawyers, and members of the legal community nationwide, all of whom know Judge Alito professionally, the Standing Committee concluded that Judge Alito is an individual of excellent integrity.

Senate votes[edit]

Committee[edit]

On January 24, 2006, the Judiciary Committee voted on a straight partisan line, 10-8, to send Alito's nomination to the full Senate.

Filibuster[edit]

Some Democratic Senators who opposed the Alito nomination considered using a filibuster option in the attempt to block the nomination. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, "The filibuster's on the table." While other Senators warned not to rush to a decision, Dick Durbin (D-IL) said "I don't think we should assume that's going to happen at all." He added, "Ordinarily it takes six to eight weeks to evaluate a Supreme Court nominee. We shouldn't rush to judgment."

At the conclusion of the confirmation hearings, January 12, the threat of a filibuster appeared to grow more remote as Durbin called a filibuster attempt "unlikely". Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, "I do not see a likelihood of a filibuster. This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court."[13] She changed her position on January 27, saying that she would vote no for cloture.[3] Fellow Judiciary Committee member Joe Biden (D-DE) said, "I think he is going to be confirmed." Other Democrats such as Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), however, said they would not support a filibuster, though they all voted against confirmation.[14][15] In addition, Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Joe Biden (D-DE) indicated that they did not support a filibuster.[4][5] Later, however, Joe Biden announced on the 29th that he would vote no for cloture.

On January 26, while vacationing in Switzerland, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called for a filibuster to block Alito's nomination.[16] Despite the support of his fellow Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)[6][7][8] and Harry Reid (D-NV), the top Democrat in the Senate, other Democrats were afraid the measure would backfire and were cautious to support it. Just one day after Kerry's call for a filibuster, Reid further stated that the Democrats did not have the votes needed to sustain a filibuster to block the confirmation of Alito. "We're going to have a vote Tuesday morning," Reid said. "Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster."[17][18]

The Democratic Senators from Massachusetts, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, attempted to gain support for a filibuster of the nominee, however they gained little support even within their own party. The Senate voted for cloture on the nomination 72-25. Three senators didn't vote, including Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican John Ensign, who had been injured in a car accident earlier that day. All of the members of the Gang of Fourteen voted for cloture with the majority.

Senators who voted for a filibuster[9]

  1. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
  2. Joe Biden (D-DE)
  3. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  4. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
  5. Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  6. Chris Dodd (D-CT)
  7. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  8. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  9. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  10. Jim Jeffords (I-VT)
  11. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  12. John Kerry (D-MA)
  13. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
  14. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  15. Carl Levin (D-MI)
  16. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
  17. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
  18. Patty Murray (D-WA)
  19. Barack Obama (D-IL)
  20. Jack Reed (D-RI)
  21. Harry Reid (D-NV)
  22. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
  23. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  24. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  25. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Full Senate[edit]

The Senate voted 58-42 on Tuesday, January 31, to confirm Alito as the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court. All but one of the 55 Senate Republicans voted to confirm Alito, as well as four Democrats: Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). Forty-two Senators voted against Alito's confirmation (40 Democrats, Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and Jim Jeffords (I-VT)).[10]

State Senator Party Confirmation vote
Hawaii Akaka, DanielDaniel Akaka D No
Tennessee Alexander, LamarLamar Alexander R Aye
Colorado Allard, WayneWayne Allard R Aye
Virginia Allen, GeorgeGeorge Allen R Aye
Montana Baucus, MaxMax Baucus D No
Indiana Bayh, EvanEvan Bayh D No
Utah Bennett, RobertRobert Bennett R Aye
Delaware Biden, JoeJoe Biden D No
New Mexico Bingaman, JeffJeff Bingaman D No
Missouri Bond, KitKit Bond R Aye
California Boxer, BarbaraBarbara Boxer D No
Kansas Brownback, SamSam Brownback R Aye
Kentucky Bunning, JimJim Bunning R Aye
Montana Burns, ConradConrad Burns R Aye
North Carolina Burr, RichardRichard Burr R Aye
West Virginia Byrd, RobertRobert Byrd D Aye
Washington Cantwell, MariaMaria Cantwell D No
Delaware Carper, TomTom Carper D No
Rhode Island Chafee, LincolnLincoln Chafee R No
Georgia Chambliss, SaxbySaxby Chambliss R Aye
New York Clinton, HillaryHillary Clinton D No
Oklahoma Coburn, TomTom Coburn R Aye
Mississippi Cochran, ThadThad Cochran R Aye
Minnesota Coleman, NormNorm Coleman R Aye
Maine Collins, SusanSusan Collins R Aye
North Dakota Conrad, KentKent Conrad D Aye
Texas Cornyn, JohnJohn Cornyn R Aye
Idaho Craig, LarryLarry Craig R Aye
Idaho Crapo, MikeMike Crapo R Aye
Minnesota Dayton, MarkMark Dayton D No
South Carolina DeMint, JimJim DeMint R Aye
Ohio DeWine, MikeMike DeWine R Aye
Connecticut Dodd, ChristopherChristopher Dodd D No
North Carolina Dole, ElizabethElizabeth Dole R Aye
New Mexico Domenici, PetePete Domenici R Aye
North Dakota Dorgan, ByronByron Dorgan D No
Illinois Durbin, DickDick Durbin D No
Nevada Ensign, JohnJohn Ensign R Aye
Wyoming Enzi, MikeMike Enzi R Aye
Wisconsin Feingold, RussRuss Feingold D No
California Feinstein, DianneDianne Feinstein D No
Tennessee Frist, BillBill Frist R Aye
South Carolina Graham, LindseyLindsey Graham R Aye
Iowa Grassley, ChuckChuck Grassley R Aye
New Hampshire Gregg, JuddJudd Gregg R Aye
Nebraska Hagel, ChuckChuck Hagel R Aye
Iowa Harkin, TomTom Harkin D No
Utah Hatch, OrrinOrrin Hatch R Aye
Texas Hutchison, Kay BaileyKay Bailey Hutchison R Aye
Oklahoma Inhofe, JimJim Inhofe R Aye
Hawaii Inouye, DanielDaniel Inouye D No
Georgia Isakson, JohnnyJohnny Isakson R Aye
Vermont Jeffords, JimJim Jeffords I No
South Dakota Johnson, TimTim Johnson D Aye
Massachusetts Kennedy, TedTed Kennedy D No
Massachusetts Kerry, JohnJohn Kerry D No
Wisconsin Kohl, HerbHerb Kohl D No
Arizona Kyl, JonJon Kyl R Aye
Louisiana Landrieu, MaryMary Landrieu D No
New Jersey Lautenberg, FrankFrank Lautenberg D No
Vermont Leahy, PatrickPatrick Leahy D No
Michigan Levin, CarlCarl Levin D No
Connecticut Lieberman, JoeJoe Lieberman D No
Arkansas Lincoln, BlancheBlanche Lincoln D No
Mississippi Lott, TrentTrent Lott R Aye
Indiana Lugar, RichardRichard Lugar R Aye
Florida Martinez, MelMel Martinez R Aye
Arizona McCain, JohnJohn McCain R Aye
Kentucky McConnell, MitchMitch McConnell R Aye
New Jersey Menendez, BobBob Menendez D No
Maryland Mikulski, BarbaraBarbara Mikulski D No
Alaska Murkowski, LisaLisa Murkowski R Aye
Washington Murray, PattyPatty Murray D No
Nebraska Nelson, BenBen Nelson D Aye
Florida Nelson, BillBill Nelson D No
Illinois Obama, BarackBarack Obama D No
Arkansas Pryor, MarkMark Pryor D No
Rhode Island Reed, JackJack Reed D No
Nevada Reid, HarryHarry Reid D No
Kansas Roberts, PatPat Roberts R Aye
West Virginia Rockefeller, JayJay Rockefeller D No
Colorado Salazar, KenKen Salazar D No
Pennsylvania Santorum, RickRick Santorum R Aye
Maryland Sarbanes, PaulPaul Sarbanes D No
New York Schumer, ChuckChuck Schumer D No
Alabama Sessions, JeffJeff Sessions R Aye
Alabama Shelby, RichardRichard Shelby R Aye
Oregon Smith, GordonGordon Smith R Aye
Maine Snowe, OlympiaOlympia Snowe R Aye
Pennsylvania Specter, ArlenArlen Specter R Aye
Michigan Stabenow, DebbieDebbie Stabenow D No
Alaska Stevens, TedTed Stevens R Aye
New Hampshire Sununu, JohnJohn Sununu R Aye
Missouri Talent, JimJim Talent R Aye
Wyoming Thomas, CraigCraig Thomas R Aye
South Dakota Thune, JohnJohn Thune R Aye
Louisiana Vitter, DavidDavid Vitter R Aye
Ohio Voinovich, GeorgeGeorge Voinovich R Aye
Virginia Warner, JohnJohn Warner R Aye
Oregon Wyden, RonRon Wyden D No

Notes: All dates are in 2009. D = Democratic; R = Republican; I = independent

Reaction to the nomination[edit]

Support[edit]

Gary Bauer, president of the conservative American Values Coalition, has said: "Any Republican senator who abandons this conservative nominee should be considered disqualified as a future presidential or vice presidential candidate." "The nomination of Harriet Miers has split conservatives unlike anything I can remember. The debate will not end, in fact it will become more intense."[citation needed]

"Harriet Miers was a feminist who had no judicial experience and her strongest qualification was that she's a friend of the president's. Alito has a terribly impressive record as a judge and as a prosecutor," said Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum president.[citation needed]

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), when asked about a possible filibuster by Senate Democrats, said, "If the Democrats are looking for a fight, we'll be up for the fight. We won't back down. ... We're gonna get an up or down vote on the Senate floor and if the Democrats want a fight, they'll get one." Frist also said, "Judge Alito is unquestionably qualified to serve on our nation's highest court. And on the bench, he has displayed a judicial philosophy marked by judicial restraint and respect for the limited role of the judiciary to interpret the law and not legislate from the bench."[citation needed]

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) affirmed that if the Democrats attempt to block the confirmation of Judge Alito, "the filibuster will not stand."[citation needed]

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): "President Bush has hit a home run by selecting Sam Alito. Anyone would be hard-pressed to name another nominee with such a sterling and distinguished record. Judge Alito believes the law — not the judge — should determine the results in a case. Judges are not politicians, and my Senate colleagues would do well to remember this standard as they consider this outstanding pick."[citation needed]

Senator Sam Brownback, (R-KS): "I commend the president and congratulate Judge Alito on this nomination, and I look forward to the upcoming confirmation hearing, during which members of the Judiciary Committee will have a robust and, I hope, civil dialogue with the nominee about the meaning of the Constitution and the role of the courts in American life."[citation needed]

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff: "He's a believer in the fact that a judge has a limited role to play and has a responsibility to play the role in an honest fashion — that you're not supposed to substitute your personal judgments for what the law is."[citation needed]

Senator John Cornyn, (R-TX): "Since Justice O'Connor announced her resignation, the president has engaged in unprecedented consultation with the United States Senate. It is now the responsibility of the Senate to consider this nomination in a thorough and timely fashion."[citation needed]

Senator David Vitter, (R-LA): "He has impeccable legal credentials and a well-grounded conservative judicial philosophy - just what so many, including me, consider most important."[citation needed]

James Dobson, leader of the conservative religious organization Focus on the Family, said he was "extremely pleased,"[citation needed] and the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue declared that the country was on "the fast-track to derailing Roe v. Wade as the law of the land."[citation needed]

Pat Robertson, a conservative Southern Baptist televangelist, called the nomination a "grand-slam home run."[citation needed]

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has said he was impressed by what he heard from Alito during his introductory visit. "He assured me that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda."[citation needed]

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) said that he will vote to confirm Alito. Johnson was the second Democrat to publicly state that he will vote in favor of confirmation.[11]

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) said that he will vote to confirm Alito. Byrd was the third Democrat to publicly state that he will vote in favor of confirmation.[citation needed]

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced that he was "leaning in favor of voting for" the conservative judge. "It is clear to me that a majority of the American people and the people I represent support his confirmation," he said after meeting with Alito in his office.[19]

Opposition[edit]

The American Civil Liberties Union formally opposed Alito's nomination. The ACLU has only taken this step two other times in its entire history, the last time being with the nomination of Robert Bork who was rejected by a 58-42 vote in the Senate. In releasing their report on Alito,[12] ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero justified the decision by saying that "At a time when our president has claimed unprecedented authority to spy on Americans and jail terrorism suspects indefinitely, America needs a Supreme Court justice who will uphold our precious civil liberties. Unfortunately, Judge Alito's record shows a willingness to support government actions that abridge individual freedoms."[13]

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) claimed Bush "has chosen to reward one faction of his party, at the risk of dividing the country." He further said the Miers nomination exposed a "right-wing litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees.[citation needed]

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "This appointment ignores the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives on the Supreme Court. The president has chosen a man to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, one of only two women on the court. For the third time, he has declined to make history by nominating the first Hispanic to the court." Reid also said the Senate would give Alito "an especially long hard look by the Senate because of what happened last week to Harriet Miers." He went on to say "Conservative activists forced Miers to withdraw from consideration for this same Supreme Court seat because she was not radical enough for them. Now the Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people." He went on to say "President Bush would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys' club."[citation needed]

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that she would vote against the nomination fearing that "he [Alito] would be more conservative" than Chief Justice Roberts. On CBS' Face the Nation, Feinstein said that a filibuster of his nomination would be unlikely.[citation needed]

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has said, "It is sad that the president felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who would unify us."[citation needed]

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said, "Though I will reserve judgment on how I will vote on Judge Alito's nomination until after the hearings, I am concerned that President Bush has wasted an opportunity to appoint a consensus nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor and has instead made a selection to appease the far right-wing of the Republican Party."[14]

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stated: "I believe this nomination is aimed at appeasing the most right-wing elements of the president's political base."[citation needed]

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) attacked Alito's stance on many controversial[citation needed] rulings in a meeting surrounded by Democratic Senate Judiciary Members. She mentioned the strip search of a 10-year-old girl, seizing a dairy farmer's land with force, and the shooting of a seven-year-old boy.[citation needed]

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) stated: "Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee who he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not strength."[citation needed]

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) stated: “Every American should be deeply concerned that the far right wing which prevented Harriet Miers from even receiving a Senate hearing is celebrating Judge Alito’s nomination and urging the Senate to rubber-stamp the swing vote on our rights and liberties. Has the right wing now forced a weakened President to nominate a divisive justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia?"[20]

Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) stated on January 30, 2006, "I am a pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-Bill of Rights Republican, and I will be voting against this nomination."[21]

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated: "Last week after Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination, I asked the President: Who was in charge? Today, the President answered: the radical conservative right is in charge of this Administration."[citation needed]

"Judge Alito is exactly the far-right nominee that the Republican Party's reactionary wing demanded after it 'Borked' Harriet Miers. Judge Alito is to the right of the existing Supreme Court on abortion, and he's to the right of all nine justices, even Scalia and Thomas, in advocating an extremely high burden of proof for employment discrimination cases," said Scott Moss, Marquette University Law School professor.[citation needed]

"Judge Alito would undermine basic reproductive rights, and Planned Parenthood will oppose his confirmation," said Karen Pearl, interim president. "It is outrageous that President Bush would replace a moderate conservative like Justice O'Connor with a conservative hardliner."[citation needed]

Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, remarked that "the gauntlet has been, I think, thrown down."[citation needed]

"NARAL Pro-Choice America announced its opposition to President Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito, Jr. to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In choosing Alito, President Bush gave in to the demands of his far-right base and is attempting to replace the moderate O’Connor with someone who would move the court in a direction that threatens fundamental freedoms, including a woman’s right to choose as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade."[15]

The National Association of Women Lawyers "determined that Judge Alito is not qualified to serve on the Court from the perspective of laws and decisions regarding women's rights or that have a special impact on women."[22]

Related documents[edit]

  • Response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire [23](Nov. 30 2005) (PDF), (Appendix1 Appendix2 Appendix3 Appendix4)
  • ‘Personal Qualifications Statement’ when applying to be an Assistant Attorney General under Pres. Ronald Reagan. [24] (Nov. 15, 1985)
  • Legal Memo written as Deputy Asst. Attorney General to the OMB’s General Counsel regarding OMB authority of FDIC funds. [25] (1986) (PDF)
  • House Committee on the Judiciary testimony regarding unpublished court opinions. [26](1990) (PDF)
  • 2004 Financial Disclosure [27]
  • 2003 Financial Disclosure [28]

Additional information[edit]

Some who claimed he was ideologically similar to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia nicknamed him "Scalito," (a portmanteau of "Scalia" and "Alito" that appears to have originated in a 1992 National Law Journal article). The National Italian American Foundation has claimed the use of the "Scalito" nickname "marginalizes [Alito's] outstanding record." [29]

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