Monday, October 31

JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO GETS THE NOD

The Associated Press (AP) has reported that President Bush has named Judge Samuel Alito of the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals this morning as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court to replace the seat being vacated by outgoing Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and in the wake of Harriet Miers' -- his original nominee -- withdrawal.

Unlike Miers, who has never been a judge, Alito, a jurist from New Jersey, has been a strong conservative voice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, seated him there in 1990.

Judicial conservatives praise Alito's 15 years on the Philadelphia-based court, a tenure that gives him more appellate experience than almost any previous Supreme Court nominee. They say his record shows a commitment to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, ensuring that the separation of powers and checks and balances are respected and enforced. They also contend that Alito has been a powerful voice for the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion.


As expected, obstructionist liberal Democrats are already posturing for a fight in the United States Senate to block confirmation of Alito, who they view as too conservative.

The Washington Post (registration required) reports:

Some Democrats, including minority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev), have threatened to oppose Alito, however. Immediately after the announcement, the liberal activist organization People for the American way announced the launch of a "massive national effort" to prevent Alito's confirmation.

In nominating Alito, President Bush is able now to make a strong case for confirmation that he was hard-pressed to do for Harriet Miers. Alito's resume easily trumps Miers'.

As WaPo reports:

Bush, fresh from withering criticism of Harriet Miers for her lack of judicial experience, stressed Alito's many years of litigation experience, first arguing 12 cases before the Supreme Court and then as an appeals court judge. Bush said Alito was the most experienced nominee in 70 years. Fresh from questions about Mier's intellect, Bush highlighted the fact that Alito went to the Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the prestigious law review. Bush called Alito "brilliant."

Alito's resume, including his service in the Reagan administration Justice Department, is very much unlike Miers', who had no appellate experience, and very much like that of Chief Justice John Roberts, who had lots.

Like Chief Justice John Roberts, Alito served during the Reagan administration in the office of Solicitor General, which argues on behalf of the government in the Supreme Court.

Unlike Roberts, he has opined from the bench on both abortion rights, church-state separation and gender discrimination to the pleasure of conservatives and displeasure of liberals.

While he has been dubbed "Scalito" by some lawyers for a supposed affinity to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and his Italian-American heritage, most observers believe that greatly oversimplifies his record.

Alito is considered far less provocative a figure than Scalia both in personality and judicial temperament. His opinions and dissents tend to be dryly analytical rather than slashing.


Am Associated Press profile of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., published in the New York Times (registration required), contains the following (as excerpted):

Dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite," a play not only on his name but his opinions, Alito, 55, brings a hefty legal resume that belies his age. He has served on the federal appeals court for 15 years since President George H.W. Bush nominated him in 1990. Before that Alito was U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1987 to 1990, where his first assistant was Michael Chertoff, now the Homeland Security secretary. Alito was the deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration from 1985 to 1987 and assistant to the solicitor general from 1981 to 1985. His New Jersey ties run deep. Alito, the son of an Italian immigrant, was born in Trenton and attended Princeton University. He headed to Connecticut to receive his law degree, graduating from Yale University in 1975. Among his noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Third Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

Former appellate judge Timothy Lewis, who served with Alito, has ideological differences with him but believes he would be a good Supreme Court justice. "There is nobody that I believe would give my case a more fair and balanced treatment," Lewis said. "He has no agenda. He's open-minded, he's fair and he's balanced."

On the bench, Alito is known to be probing, but more polite than the often-caustic Justice Antonin Scalia, to whom he is sometimes compared. In high school, he competed in debate with his younger sister Rosemary. His style is considered quiet and thoughtful.


FOLLOW-UP: One can never do better than to read Michelle Malkin and she provides a wealth of links here on the Alito nomination.