WASHINGTON The Senate Judiciary Committee will delay its vote for Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito until Jan. 24, it was announced on Monday night.
The voting had been expected to take place today, Jan. 17, however committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking Democrat on the committee Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) agreed over the holiday weekend to give one more week.
Conservatives had been urging a quick vote following last weeks hearings. Alito is expected to easily obtain 10 Republican votes in the committee and go to a full senate vote, where Democrats have not ruled out a filibuster. The added week gives interest groups another week to attempt to sway the votes of their senators.
Alito had been strongly criticized by liberal groups ahead of and during the hearings with groups stating that he the nominees record indicated he would give the President too much power, not support civil rights and leave the door open to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that nationalized legal abortions.
Conservative groups defended the nominee as a man of integrity with a stellar 15 year career, who had received the support of all his former clerks and the endorsement of his fellow Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judges, who testified about his qualities as a judge on his behalf last week. Conservative groups also touted Alitos well-qualified endorsement from the American Bar Association.
Leahy said in a statement that the delay allows the Senators to conclude Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday events without having to rush back to Washington before the Senate returs to session. Leahy assured Chairman Specter that no Democrat senator would ask for a second delay.
According to Senate rules, any member of the committee can delay the vote for a week.
Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) the Senate Majority leader called the delay unjustified and desperate partisan obstructionism but expected to go swiftly to a full senate debate after the Jan. 24 to move swiftly to a fair up-or-down vote.
It is expected that in the full senate, all 55 Republicans will vote for Alito. A few of the more conservative Democrats have also said they are leaning toward voting for Alito.
A spokesman for Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that this is a key swing vote on the Supreme Court and Democrats are not going to be rushed into anything, according to the Associated Press.