Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) — Samuel A. Alito Jr. won U.S. Senate confirmation to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a mostly partisan vote that helps President George W. Bush move the Supreme Court to the right.
The Senate voted 58-42 to elevate Alito from a Philadelphia- based appeals court, where he has served since 1990, to be the nation’s 110th Supreme Court justice. Alito watched the vote from the White House along with Bush. He will be sworn in today in time to attend the president’s State of the Union speech to Congress along with Bush’s other high court appointee, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
FOUR Democrats joined 54 Republicans in voting for Alito, whose nomination spurred a partisan debate over whether he would scale back abortion rights or check Bush’s claims of war-time powers to fight terrorism. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was the only Republican to oppose Alito.
“There is a grave risk he carries a legal agenda, one that he will bring with him to the Supreme Court,” said Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who represents Alito’s home state of New Jersey.
The rancorous fight over Alito was in contrast to the more harmonious confirmation of Roberts by a vote of 78-22 in September. Roberts replaced the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a staunch conservative unlike O’Connor, who has been a pivotal vote on such issues as abortion, affirmative action and civil rights.