— G. W. Bush
Sun Dec 25, 2005 14:50


"[Alito] is a man of enormous character."
— G. W. Bush
(Source: The London Times)

President Bush nominated Samuel Alito, a long-serving federal judge with strong conservative credentials, to the Supreme Court today.

Mr Bush announced the nomination of Mr Alito, an experienced judge who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, just four days after Harriet Miers, his former personal lawyer and confidante, withdrew her nomination to the court.

Mr Alito is expected to be a popular choice among conservatives - Mr Bush called him "a man of enormous character" this morning - but Democrats in Washington have already suggested that his right wing opinions will lead to a tough appointment process.

When Mr Alito was rumoured as a replacement for Ms Miers yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said that his nomination would "create a lot of problems." Today, Mr Reid said: "The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people."

Nominating Mr Alito this morning, Mr Bush praised the 55-year-old judge from New Jersey for his "brilliance and decency" and for applying the law "in a principled fashion". Mr Alito has been dubbed "Scalito", in honour of the famously trenchant and conservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.

"Judge Alito is one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America, and his long career in public service has given him an extraordinary breadth of experience," said Mr Bush today.

"As a Justice Department official, federal prosecutor and judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Sam Alito has shown a mastery of the law, a deep commitment of justice, and he is a man of enormous character," the president said.

Mr Alito was one of the original favourites to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her retirement earlier this year. There was some surprise when President Bush nominated Ms Miers instead.

Today, Mr Alito said that he was particularly honoured to be put forward for the seat of Justice O'Connor, who asked him the first question in his first case before the Supreme Court in 1982.

"I remember the sense of awe that I felt when I stepped up to the lectern. And I also remember the relief that I felt when Justice O'Connor - sensing, I think, that I was a rookie - made sure that the first question that I was asked was a kind one," he said.

The replacing of Justice O'Connor, who has held a swing vote in a string of delicate social cases before the Supreme Court, has been watched with particular attention in America because it represents an opportunity for Mr Bush to alter the ideological make-up of the court.

And today, right wing groups welcomed the nomination of Mr Alito, who has been described as the "darling of the conservative movement".

"The president has made an excellent choice today which reflects his commitment to appoint judges in the mould of Scalia and Thomas," said Kay Daly, president the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, referring to Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Scalia, the two most hawkish judges in the court.

Mr Alito's best-known judicial stand is his lone opposition to a decision to strike down a Pennsylvania law that required women to inform their husbands before seeking an abortion.

Democratic analysts said that Mr Alito's nomination came as no surprise.

"It’s a pretty predictable move from a politically crippled president," said Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant. "Toss out a judicial extremist to pacify his base and provoke a fight that he hopes changes the subject away from indictments and Iraq and Katrina and a soft economy."

Mr Bush will be desperate for Mr Alito's nomination to proceed smoothly. His approval rating is at its lowest level since 2000 and his administration was damaged last week by the embarrassing withdrawal of Ms Miers and the indictment of Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top adviser, on perjury charges.


Just A Few Paper Cuts


"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face!
It’s just a goddamned piece of paper."
— G. W. Bush


(Source: Capitol Hill Blue)

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