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Bush Picks Conservative Judge Alito Who Endorsed Abortion Restrictions for Supreme Court
President Bush nominated federal appeals judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court Monday, just four days after Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination. The 55-year-old Alito is widely seen as a judicial conservative who has been nicknamed "Scalito" for his philosophical similarities to Justice Antonin Scalia. In 1991, Alito backed a Pennsylvania law that required women to inform their husbands before they sought an abortion. His support came in the form of a dissenting vote in the landmark case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
President Bush has nominated appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito is a former U.S. attorney who has been a judge for 15 years. He is considered a favorite of the conservative movement and will replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the bench.
The choice of Alito comes after Harriet Miers, withdrew her nomination Thursday after coming under intense criticism from the Christian Right and many Republican senators who questioned her qualifications and record.
Unlike Miers, who has never been a judge, Alito has been a strong conservative voice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia since former President George H.W. Bush seated him there in 1990.
He has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his conservative judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 1991, Alito wrote the lone dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case striking down a Pennsylvania law that imposes numerous restrictions on women seeking abortions.
The law, among other things, required physicians to advise women of the potential medical dangers of abortion and tell them of the alternatives available. It also imposed a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and barred minors from obtaining abortions without parental consent. In that same ruling, the panel struck down a single provision in the law requiring women to notify their husband's before they obtained an abortion. Alito dissented from that part of the decision. He wrote, "The Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands" knowledge because of perceived problems -- such as economic constrains, future plans, or the husbands" previously expressed opposition -- that may be obviated by discussion prior to abortion."
The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the appeals court decision, disagreed with Alito and also used the case to reaffirm its support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
Alito has also been criticized by women's rights organizations for his 1996 dissent in a sex discrimination case, Sheridan v. Dupont. In that case, he argued that Third Circuit that had made it too easy for discrimination complaints to reach a jury trial.
Alito has been consistently supportive of conservative views in cases involving issues of church and state. He wrote a majority opinion in ACLU v. Schundler, holding that a city's holiday display that included a creche and menorah did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Last night, Senate minority leader Harry Reid said Alito "is not one of the names that I've suggested to the president. In fact, I've done the opposite. I think it would create a lot of problems."
* Seth Rosenthal, Legal Director of the Alliance for Justice.
* Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
* President Bush, nominates Samuel Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court from the White House.
* Judge Samuel Alito, accepting his nomination to the Supreme Court.