LEGAL ISSUES

Bush Nominates Alito to Supreme Court

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Oct. 31, 2005--Just four days after Harriet Miers withdrew her name from consideration, President Bush today nominated Circuit Court judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Alito, a conservative with 15 years of experience on the bench, stands in contrast to Miers, who was hammered for weeks by the far right for being unqualified and not conservative enough.

While Republicans greeted the latest nomination with enthusiasm, Democrats immediately began criticizing Alito, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as out of the mainstream -- citing past rulings favoring religious symbols on public property and citizens owning assault weapons.

If confirmed, Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative.

Views on business have increasingly become a factor in Supreme Court nominations. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, benefited from his experience in business law, earning the endorsement of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade association based in Washington, D.C. The White House reportedly consulted NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over Alito's nomination.

In a statement today, NAM voiced support for Bush's pick, echoing a refrain that has become increasingly common among conservatives. "Judge Alito has a reputation for strict interpretation of the Constitution, and that stands him in good stead with us," said NAM President John Engler. "It is imperative that judges be committed to interpreting the law, not using their judicial power to supersede the functions of the legislature."

Some of Alito's past opinions seem to indicate a pro-commerce stance. In the 1996 assault weapons case, he wrote the dissenting opinion, arguing that the Commerce Clause should not apply to firearms.

As with the confirmation process of Chief Justice Roberts, Alito's views on abortion will be a hot topic at his hearing. In 1991, Alito was the sole dissenter in a ruling that struck down a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking abortions to notify their husbands.

Continuing his expression for speedy confirmations, President Bush called for Judge Alito to be confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court by years' end.

Last updated: Oct 31, 2005




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