A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"I am who I am and I am my own person"

AP: Alito Turns Aside Democrats' Criticism---

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito calmly turned aside Democratic attacks on his judicial record at confirmation hearings Wednesday, declaring his impartiality and saying, "If I'm confirmed I'll be myself."

He joined Senate Democrats in denouncing the positions of a controversial Princeton alumni group he once highlighted.

"I am who I am and I am my own person" said the 55-year-old appeals court judge, who would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in what has been a swing seat on the Supreme Court.

Under persistent questioning, Alito declined for a second straight day to say whether believes, as he did in 1985, that the Constitution contains no right to an abortion. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to speak about issues that could realistically come up" before the courts, he said.

Alito commands the support of all 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and while Democrats can delay his approval by the panel they cannot block it. His prospects for confirmation by the full Senate are also strong, although Democrats have not ruled out the possibility of a filibuster that could require supporters to post 60 votes.

Still, unlike Chief Justice John Roberts last fall, Alito may draw the opposition of all eight Democrats on the panel, and partisan maneuvering was evident on Wednesday.

Abortion triggered one incident. Sen. Richard Durbin, who supports abortion rights, told Alito that his 1985 written view on abortion "does not evidence an open mind. It evidences a mind that sadly is closed in some areas."

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, saying he wanted to "razz" Durbin, soon noted that the Illinois Democrat had himself changed his mind on abortion. "For 45 years, Senator Durbin was adamantly pro-life, and he wrote multiple, multiple letters expressing that up until 1989," said Republican Coburn.