Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Senate Judiciary Approves Alito

In the biggest non-surprise of the month so far, the Senate Judiciary Committee today agreed 10-8, on a straight party-line vote, to send the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the full Senate.

All 10 Republicans voted to confirm the ultra-conservative Alito, while the committee’s eight Democrats were opposed.

"Judge Alito's record as a professional — both as a Justice Department official and as a judge — reflects something more than a neutral judicial philosophy," said Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI). He noted that Alito has refused to call the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision "settled law."

That kind of says it all, given that Chief Justice John Roberts was willing to make such a declaration and the previous nominee, Harriet Miers, was run out of town on a rail by the Religious Right for her similar stance.

"He still believes that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion, but does not want to tell the American people because he knows how unpopular that view is," said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) also voted against Alito.

"When I look at all of the evidence before us — Judge Alito's writings, his statements, his judicial records and his opinions and the little we learned about him at these hearings — I'm forced to conclude that he should not serve on the Supreme Court," said Biden in opposing the nomination.

What will happen on the Senate floor this week remains to be seen, but it may not be as much of a slam dunk for Bush’s unitary-executive champion as people think. My sources, which have been more right than wrong on Senate business, indicate that a Harry Reid surprise may be coming.

Stay tuned…