Samuel Alito Jr.
Less than a week after accepting the withdrawal of Harriet Miers'
nomination to the Supreme Court, President Bush named a candidate
with a proven legal career and clear conservative stripes, federal
appeals Judge Samuel Alito Jr., to take the seat of retiring Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor.
55, is a judge on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals, appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
Alito has a far more developed conservative judicial record than
Miers, who withdrew her nomination on Oct. 27, 2005 amid mounting
criticism from liberals and conservatives alike about her qualifications,
constitutional philosophy and the reluctance of the administration
to release documents from her tenure as White House counsel.
During the Reagan administration, Alito served as assistant solicitor
general and deputy attorney general, and as such, argued several
cases before the Supreme Court.
If confirmed by the Senate, Alito would be the second Italian-American
Catholic to join the high court after Justice Antonin Scalia.
The similarities between the two men, both judicial conservatives,
have earned Alito the nickname "Scalito" among some
lawyers, according to news reports.
Although he has worked on more than 3500 cases in his career
and issued more than 300 opinions as judge, there are a handful
of decisions which will likely be under the microscope when the
Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on his nomination.
On the 3rd Circuit, Alito played a role in two high-profile abortion
cases. In 1991, he voted to uphold Pennsylvania spousal notification
requirements that were later struck down by the Supreme Court.
In 2000, he joined a three-judge court in voiding a New Jersey
prohibition on a late-term procedure that opponents call partial
birth, reported Bloomberg news.
He cast a dissenting vote when the 3rd Circuit upheld a federal
ban on machine gun possession in 1996.
In 1997, he wrote an opinion upholding a city hall holiday display
that contained a nativity scene, a menorah and secular items including
a plastic Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.
Democrats have said they plan to oppose the nomination. Senate
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Alito's nomination would
"create a lot of problems."
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., pulled no punches. "Rather
than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court,
President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the
massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination
based on weakness, not on strength."
But when announcing his selection on Oct. 31, 2005, President
Bush said, "I'm confident that the United States Senate will
be impressed by Judge Alito's distinguished record, his measured
judicial temperament and his tremendous personal integrity."
In accepting the nomination, Alito said, "During my 29 years
as a public servant, I've had an opportunity to view the Supreme
Court from a variety of perspectives.
"The Supreme Court is an institution I have long held in
reverence," he said.
The Trenton, N.J.-born Alito is described by friends and colleagues
as quiet and self-effacing with a wry sense of humor, according
to a U.S. News and World Report profile.
A graduated of Princeton University and Yale Law School, he has
a wife, Martha, a son in college and a daughter in high school.