Alito's comments were included in a lengthy questionnaire he submitted to the committee ahead of his confirmation hearings, which are scheduled for Jan. 9, 2006. The 64-page document detailed Alito's professional life and legal career.
"[J]udges must be appropriately modest in their estimation of their own abilities; they must respect the judgments reached by predecessors; and they must be sensibly cautious about the scope of their decisions," Alito wrote. "And judges should do all these things without shirking their duty to say what the law is and to carry out their proper role with energy and independence."
The submission of the questionnaire is standard procedure for nominees preparing for hearings before the committee.
President Bush nominated Alito, a federal judge, after his previous nominee, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, withdrew her name from consideration amid heavy criticism from Republican lawmakers. The Judiciary Committee sent Miers' completed questionnaire back for revisions, asserting that her answers were not sufficient.
Reports also emerged on Wednesday that in 1985, as a lawyer serving in the Reagan Administration, Alito expressed the hope that the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade would one day be overturned and espoused a policy of "mitigating" its effects by supporting state cases that had potential to restrict abortions.
"I find this approach preferable to a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade," Alito wrote in 1985, according to the Associated Press. "It has most of the advantages of a brief devoted to overruling of Roe v. Wade; it makes our position clear, does not even tacitly concede Roe's legitimacy, and signals that we regard the question as live and open. At the same time, it is free of many of the disadvantages that would accompany a major effort to overturn Roe."
In his questionnaire Alito said that no one has asked how he would rule on any case nor implied that he should rule a certain way on a case. He also stated that he had not given anyone any type of assurance "how he might rule as a justice."
Senators who have met with Alito said he has expressed respect for precedent and embraced an approach of judicial independence and modesty.
"I don't give heed to my personal views, what I do is interpret the law," Alito said in some of the interviews, according to the AP.