Samuel Alito Nominated to Supreme Court

CNN Breaking News:

President Bush today will nominate 3rd Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court, sources tell CNN. Alito is a former U.S. Attorney who has been a judge for 15 years. Bush is expected to announce the nomination at 8 a.m.

Officials: Bush to nominate Alito to high court (CNN)

President Bush will nominate 3rd Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court, sources told CNN on Monday. Alito, a former U.S. attorney who has been a judge for 15 years, is considered a favorite of the conservative movement and is Bush’s third pick for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat.

His first, Judge John Roberts, was later nominated and confirmed to replace the late William Rehnquist as chief justice of the United States. The second nominee, Texas lawyer and White House counsel Harriet Miers, withdrew from the process Thursday after weeks of opposition from both liberals and conservatives, who questioned her qualifications and record.

Diggers Realm emails to say that FOX news is reporting it, too.

Update (0645): Bush to Nominate Alito to Supreme Court (AP)

President Bush will nominate Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, rebounding from a stinging rebuke over his first choice by tapping a conservative federal judge to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a moderate. Bush plans to announce the nomination at 8 a.m. EST, two senior Republican officials said Monday.


The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview Bush’s remarks, said Alito was virtually certain to get the nod from the moment Miers backed out. The 55-year-old jurist was Bush’s favorite choice of the judges in the last set of deliberations but he settled instead on someone outside what he calls the “judicial monastery,” the officials said. Bush believes that Alito has not only the right experience and conservative ideology for the job, but he also has a temperament suited to building consensus on the court. A former prosecutor, Alito has experience off the bench that factored into Bush’s thinking, the officials said.

While Alito is expected to win praise from Bush’s allies on the right, Democrats have served notice that his nomination would spark a partisan brawl. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sunday that Alito’s nomination would “create a lot of problems.” Unlike Miers, who has never been a judge, Alito, a 55-year-old jurist from New Jersey, has been a strong conservative voice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since former President George H.W. Bush seated him there in 1990.

So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed “Scalito” or “Scalia-lite” by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.


Judicial conservatives praise Alito’s 15 years on the Philadelphia-based court, a tenure that gives him more appellate experience than almost any previous Supreme Court nominee. They say his record shows a commitment to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, ensuring that the separation of powers and checks and balances are respected and enforced. They also contend that Alito has been a powerful voice for the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion.

Liberal groups, on the other hand, note Alito’s moniker and say his nomination raises troubling concerns, especially when it comes to his record on civil rights and reproductive rights. Alito is a frequent dissenter on the 3rd Circuit, one of the most liberal federal appellate benches in the nation.

In the early 1990s, Alito was the lone dissenter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. “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 constraints, future plans or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition — that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion,” Alito wrote. The case ended up at the Supreme Court where the justices, in a 6-3 decision struck down the spousal notification provision of the law. The late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist cited Alito’s reasoning in his own dissent.

Others blogging:

    Michelle Malkin: “Experienced. Well-thought-of by conservative constitutional scholars. Not a diversity/crony pick. Young. This is a nominee the Right can get behind.”

    Mike Pechar: “Expect a battle from liberals during confirmation.”

    Julian Sanchez: “Given the timing, expect 90 percent of headlines to use some variant on: “Trick for Dems; Treat for Base” to announce the story.”

    Jay Tea has more networks reporting the story.

    Michael Demmons: “[Bush] can expect a major fight – from all Democrats and most people who are moderate. Nice though that he got permission from the (so-called) Concerned Women for America and the likes of Gary Bauer to nominate this one.”

    John Stephenson: “Anyone who will stand up to the ACLU’s socialist agenda has to be a good pick”

    Feddie: “Naturally, I am thrilled with the president’s choice.”


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    I’ll be the first one to say I was wrong if he makes it, but I have the notion this is going to backfire on us.

  2. bryan says:

    I tried three different ways to send a trackback to this post, and I got no luck. Here’s my trackback: Alito next name out of the hat

  3. Fersboo says:

    I’ll second Bithead and add that I don’t think the Republican senators have the balls to confirm this nominee.