Paul  Weyrich

He was going to be subjected to a filibuster. Now it appears that Supreme Court Justice Nominee Samuel J. Alito, Jr. will get an up-or-down vote.

He was expected to be a real let-down after the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. If anything, Judge Alito out-performed Chief Justice Roberts. Judge Alito was going to be pinned down on abortion or else he would be rejected for the Supreme Court. Not only was Judge Alito not pinned down on abortion but he did not agree with Senators as Roberts had that Roe v Wade was “settled law.”

He surely was going to lose his composure at some point, thus giving Senators the opening for which they were looking. Judge Alito remained absolutely composed during and after answering more than 700 questions.

He was subjected to the best organized, most expensive, liberal campaign in history. Conservatives matched liberal activity dollar-for-dollar, call-for-call.

He would be fortunate if he could garner 52 votes to be confirmed by the full Senate. Now it appears that Judge Alito may get approximately 65 votes in his favor. He was not expected to get a single Democrat vote to confirm his nomination. Now it appears that Judge Alito could have 10 or more Democrats join Republicans in voting for him. He was expected to lose a minimum of three and perhaps a maximum of five Republican votes for confirmation. It now is possible that Judge Alito could get all 55 Republican votes.

Thus was the remarkable saga of the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Alito this past week. Barring some wholly unexpected last minute revelation which would cause the confirmation hearings to be re-opened, the Alito nomination is headed for the floor of the United States Senate and an up-or-down vote, either the week of January 15 or the week of January 22. There was good reason for President Bush to call Alito after he finished his three days of testimony last Thursday. Simply put, Alito did a masterful job before that highly charged committee.

Nonetheless, the vote almost certainly will be 10 to 8, or strict party-line, to recommend the Alito nomination to the full Senate. If ten or more Democrats appear to be willing to vote for his confirmation, why the party-line vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee? That Committee, as well as the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is stacked with the sharpest liberals in the Senate. These eight Democrats are barely representative of the 45 Senators who comprise the entire Democrat Conference in 2006 (44 Democrats and 1 Independent). When the nomination is scheduled for the Senate Floor all Senators will be able to vote.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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