WASHINGTON - In a 10-8 partisan vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Judge Samuel Alito on Tuesday, moving him one step closer to a seat on the Supreme Court. He now faces a full senate vote where he is expected to be confirmed as early as this week.
All ten Republican senators voted for Alito, 55, while eight democrats voted against him. There will not be a filibuster to delay the vote since the Democrats dont currently have enough votes to carry it out.
I guess there are 18 ways of saying the same thing broken into two categories, quipped Sen. Linsey Graham (R-S.C.) when it was his turn to vote Tuesday morning. He went on to praise the nominee.
Most of the Republicans felt reassured by Alitos qualifications for the court, including his 15 year career as an appellate judge and what they saw as a willingness to judge cases by the facts without committing to an outcome on controversial issues such as abortion and presidential powers.
"He did not say what his ultimate decision would be, as he should not, because no nominee ought to be asked to decide in advance how he is going to rule on any specific case," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) during the committee vote.
"On the issue of a woman's right to choose, it is my judgment that he went as far as he could go," added the senator, who supports abortion. "He emphasized the factor of stare decisis and precedents, and the reliance factor."
Democrats feared that Alito would not be mindful of civil liberties for Americans, turning back the clock on abortion, and giving the President more power than necessary.
So I will not lend my support to an effort by this president to move the Supreme Court and the law radically to the right and to remove the final check within our democracy, said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in voting against Alitos nomination.
Conservative and liberal groups were also split on their opinions.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins blasted democrats for their dissent.
We are outraged by the Senate Judiciary Democrats party line vote against one of the most well-qualified Supreme Court nominees in the history of our nation. Their goal is to impose radical policy ideas on America through control of the Court. It demonstrates the allegiance Democrats have sworn to the extreme factions of their party.
The left-leaning Alliance for Justice lamented the split vote, expressing a desire for a consensus vote.
The American people have been clear and consistent in their desire for a consensus choice for the Supreme Court - a nominee who can draw broad support from Senators of both parties. Today's party-line Judiciary Committee vote shows that Judge Alito is not America's choice for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, American Center for Law and Justice, which places itself on the right of most social issues, said that until a definite date for a full senate vote is made the waiting period would be labeled a soft filibuster.
This is an unacceptable delay tactic and something we will not tolerate, said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. He indicated that staff members would be active in engaging the Senates leadership to convince them to quickly announce a vote in the full senate.