Alito to the Supreme Court
News reports confirm what White House sources had indicated since Friday: Samuel Alito will be President Bush's next nominee to the Supreme Court.
Determined to avoid being ambushed again by negative reactions, the White House carefully orchestrated a series of trial balloons to make sure that Alito was acceptable to the GOP base.
On Friday, White House sources let bloggers at ConfirmThem know that Alito along with Michael Luttig was the leading choice for the next nominee for the Supreme Court. The ConfirmThem website had been ground zero for the uprising against previous court pick Harriet Miers, but over the weekend the reaction to Samuel Alito was strongly positive among the GOP's activist base.
Although some were concerned about Alito's lack of express commitment to a Scalia-style philosophy of original intent, most were won over by his excellent credentials and strong conservative track record.
An intense debate took place over whether Alito would be likely to overturn Roe v Wade. Although Alito has never openly criticized Roe, he wrote a key dissent in the 1992 Casey decision on abortion. In his dissent, he indicated support for a rational basis test for abortion rulings as opposed to the undue burden test ultimately adopted by the Supreme Court; the rational basis test would make it much easier for the states to regulate abortion, and would seriously undermine Roe v Wade without actually reversing it.
Samuel Alito is 55. Senator Arlen Specter is said to support him and be a key ally. Alito has a BA from Princeton, a JD from Yale, worked for the Reagan Justice Department, and is on the short list of Robert Bork.
Late last night, Senator Harry Reid raised the possibility of a filibuster if Alito were chosen.