This Time, Liberals Voice Opposition

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - In a statement released Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid complained that the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito did not result from consultation with Senate Democrats.

Reid said he was disappointed in the pick. "I look forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers," Reid said in a press release.

On Sunday, Reid said the nomination of Alito would create problems for Democrats.

Speaking on CNN's ''Late Edition," Reid said, "That is not one of the names that I've suggested to the president. In fact, I've done the opposite. I think it would create a lot of problems."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, called Alito's selection "sad" -- something that is "likely to divide America."

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), also a member of the Judiciary Committee, accused President Bush of choosing a nominee just to "stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing." Kennedy called it a nomination based on weakness, not strength.

"After insisting that Harriet Miers shouldn't even get a hearing because she couldn't prove she was extreme enough, the far right has now forced the president to choose a nominee that they think has views as extreme as their own."

Kennedy said while Alito is "clearly intelligent and experienced on the bench," there are still questions about whether he is a "mainstream" candidate.

"If confirmed, Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right, placing at risk decades of American progress in safeguarding our fundamental rights and freedoms," Kennedy said.

The Republican Party on Monday circulated Sen. Ted Kennedy's complimentary comments about Alito, which Kennedy made in 1990, when the Judiciary Committee considered Alito's nomination to the federal appeals court.

At the time, Sen. Kennedy said to Alito, "You have obviously had a very distinguished record, and I certainly commend you for long service in the public interest. I think it is a very commendable career and I am sure you will have a successful one as a judge."

Planned Parenthood said it opposes the nomination because Alito "would undermine basic reproductive rights."

Over the weekend, Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift told Fox News that Alito's dissent in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision would prove controversial.

In that case, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Pennsylvania law that required women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion.

Alito dissented; in other words, he supported the Pennsylvania law.

Right says Bush got it right

Early reaction from conservatives was enthusiastic, however.

Manuel Miranda, chair of the Third Branch Conference, was an early and vociferous critic of the Harriet Miers nomination, but on Monday, Miranda had nothing but praise for the president's latest pick.

"The nomination of Samuel A. Alito to service on the Supreme Court is consummately in keeping with President Bush's trust and mandate from the American people to be a steward, together with the Senate, of the third branch of government," Miranda said.

"Judge Alito is a constitutionalist who has weathered one of the more liberal federal circuit courts in the country," Miranda said, adding that he is "immensely well qualified."

Miranda said Judge Alito "deserves an honest up-or-down vote, and in the process, the American people deserve a national debate worthy of us."


"Judge Alito is an extraordinary nominee," said Jeff Mazzella, president of the Center for Individual Freedom, a group that advocates the selection of judges who will not legislate from the bench.

"Judge Alito is a supremely qualified, mainstream conservative choice. In making this selection, the president has made the best possible choice. Judge Alito has a first rate intellect, legal credentials, and judicial experience," Mazzella added.

As for rumblings of a filibuster, the Center for Individual Freedom said it's never appropriate to obstruct a judicial nominee.
"Instead of making the confirmation process a war, Senators should make sure that the process is fair. And it must include a fair hearing, prompt committee vote, and a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate floor," Mazzella concluded.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who generally supports the president, and who strongly backed the selection of Harriet Miers, called Judge Alito a man of outstanding character who is deeply committed to public service.

"Unfortunately, as we saw with the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, it appears that some on the other side of the aisle will not support any nominee who shares a philosophy of judicial restraint. Partisan politics must be put aside, allowing the Senate to focus on the nominee's qualifications."

Cornyn reminded Senate Democrats that President Bush has engaged in "unprecedented consultation" with the Senate.

"It is now the responsibility of the Senate to consider this nomination in a thorough and timely fashion," he said, especially since the court has been in session for a month -- without a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"All nominees deserve a fair process and an up-or-down vote," Cornyn said. "No nominee should be used as a political pawn."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) called Bush's selection of Judge Alito a "wise choice."

"President Bush promised that he would nominate Justices in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas. In choosing Judge Alito for the high court, President Bush has done just that," said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ's chief counsel.

Sekulow called Alito a well-known conservative jurist with a lengthy track record of interpreting the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. He's extremely qualified, Sekulow added, and his nomination will "galvanize" conservatives.

Judge Alito, 55 years old, received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1972, his law degree from Yale Law School in 1975, and clerked for Judge Leonard Garth of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Alito also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey; assistant to the U.S. solicitor general in the Justice Department; deputy assistant attorney general under U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese; and U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey until his appointment in 1990 to the federal appeals bench.

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