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Close scrutiny awaits Alito in coming months

With Supreme Court nominations, it’s out with the old and in with the new. President Bush announced his new nomination on Monday, replacing Harriet Miers with appellate court judge Samuel Alito as the new nominee.

Conservatives are pleased with Bush’s new choice, as the conservative Alito seems to be more qualified than Miers was. Liberals, in turn, are displeased with Alito’s nomination, irritated at the fact that Bush chose someone who has a very conservative record instead of a moderate voter such as Sandra Day O’Connor, who Alito would replace if appointed.

Bush said during the announcement that “(Alito) understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people.”

Yet during his extensive career as a judge, there were probably times when he has taken a personal stand in some decisions – for example, with the abortion issue.

“In 1991, in one of his more well-known decisions, Alito was the only dissenting voice in a 3rd Circuit ruling striking down a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they planned to get an abortion. The Supreme Court upheld the decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” stated.

If confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, some abortion rights groups fear that Alito may attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, if his past stance on the abortion issue is any indication.

However, this is early speculation.

Even though Alito seems to have more judicial experience than Miers did, his nomination is more divisive among the Senate. In Miers’ case, at least both parties agreed that she did not have the experience necessary to be appointed to the highest court in the land.

With Alito’s nomination, echoes reminiscent of the Three Bears can be heard throughout the Senate. “He’s too conservative,” the liberals cry, while the conservatives think he’s “just right.”

Alito himself believes that the job of a judge is to simply be a judge.

“Most of the labels people use to talk about judges, and the way judges decide (cases) aren’t too descriptive. Judges should be judges. They shouldn’t be legislators, they shouldn’t be administrators,” Alito said in a profile in the Newark Star-Ledger in May 2005.

Whatever the decision on Alito’s nomination to the high court, it probably will not be known until the end of the year, Senate members say. Like the media parade surrounding Miers, every decision that Alito has ever made will be under close scrutiny until the Senate makes its decision.