Despite qualms, Alito is qualified
Democrats are expected to follow Sen. Leahy's lead in opposing the confirmation of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.
SEN. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will vote against the confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, and most other Democrats are expected to join him. They complain that Alito is far too conservative for their liking, but they rather than Alito will be cast as the ideologues.
In his confirmation hearings, Alito displayed the legal knowledge and temperament in addition to his unquestionably solid experience -- 15 years as a federal appeals judge -- to qualify as a justice of the high court. Leahy bases his opposition on concern that Alito will fail to provide check and balance "at a time when the president is seizing unprecedented power."
Leahy voted for the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who has since provided evidence in his dissent of the upholding of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act that he is in lockstep with conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The difference is that Roberts replaced the late William H. Rehnquist, a conservative throughout his years on the Supreme Court, while Alito would replace Sandra Day O'Connor, who became a moderate, swing vote on the panel.
That is likely to create a shift to the right, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy becoming the swing vote on the more conservative court. That is the consequence of the 2004 re-election of President Bush, who promised during his campaign that he would name conservatives to the bench.
Democratic leaders reportedly are planning a strategy of making a campaign issue of Alito's decisions on the court if he is confirmed. That could backfire. Republicans will need only to cite the 1993 confirmation by a 96-3 vote of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s, in accusing the Democrats of inappropriately injecting ideology into the process.
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