By Terry Vanderheyden

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2006 ( – US Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito won a Senate Judiciary Committee vote today by a margin of 10 to 8, divided strictly along party lines. The vote sends Alito’s nomination to the Senate floor where, with a Republican majority, a final confirmation is seen as likely.

Judge Alito is US President George W. Bush’s choice to replace retiring judge Sandra Day-O’Connor. At 55, it is likely Alito’s influence at the high court will continue for many years. Pressed by Sen. Arlen Specter to state his opinion regarding Roe V. Wade during his confirmation hearing over the past few days, Alito admitted that the decision bore a great deal of legal weight, especially considering it has been several times revisited and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court. However, he added “Sometimes changes in the situation in the real world can call for the overruling of a precedent.”

“I personally would not get into categorizing precedents as super-precedents or super-duper precedents,” he continued, saying “it sort of reminds me of the size of laundry detergent in the supermarket. I don’t want to leave the impression that stare decisis is an inexorable command because the Supreme Court has said that it is not.”

The eight Democrats who opposed the confirmation said he was unsuitable for the Court because of his position on abortion. Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas meanwhile said he looked forward to the day Roe v. Wade is defeated, a day when Americans will no longer “violate the dignity of the unborn,” according to a New York Times report.

Pro-family commentator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, called the party divisions a “disgrace.”“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,” he said. “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.”

“While the vote of the committee’s Democrats is unfortunate, it is certainly not unexpected,” Perkins added. “With elections approaching the political horizon and a majority of Americans rejecting the extreme measures put forth by the liberal base, Democrats have determined unreasoned opposition to Judge Alito will best fill their election coffers. It is a disgrace to the process and our country.”

“With the nomination now before the full Senate, I call upon members of the Senate to engage in a fair and dignified debate, concluding in a timely up or down vote,” Perkins concluded. “Any further effort to delay and degrade this process is unacceptable.”

Focus on the Family Action Senior Vice President of Government and Public Policy Tom Minnery also condemned the party-line divide. “While we are happy Judge Alito has moved a step closer to the up-or-down vote he deserves, we are disappointed and disturbed that the eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have first railed, then voted against him today,” he said. “The legal brilliance and judicial temperament Judge Alito exhibited during his three days of testimony before the Committee – during which he answered more than 700 questions – leaves no doubt as to his suitability to serve.”
“Committee Democrats refuse to acknowledge this plain truth, it seems, because they are more interested in making political hay than in doing their constitutional duty of offering advice and consent on the important matter of who sits on the Supreme Court,” Minnery added. “This party-line vote against him is their last-gasp attempt to score some points with those on the political left whose votes they’ll need come November.”

Jan LaRue, Concerned Women for America’s Chief Counsel, called Democrat Senators’ failure to acknowledge Alito’s suitability for the Court a “deception at the deepest level.”

“Judge Alito deserves to be seated on the Supreme Court without delay,” she said. “Anybody who watched the Alito hearing with an open mind, not to be confused with holes in the head, knows the liberals’ distortion of Alito’s record is desperation and deception at the deepest level.”

A vote in the Senate is expected Friday.

See related coverage:
  Alito Refuses to Acknowledge “Super-Duper Precedent” in Roe V. Wade