- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2005

The battle over replacing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is shaping up to be the major ideological fight both sides had been expecting.

Revelations in recent weeks about Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s personal opposition to abortion and his legal arguments on how to curtail it have energized supporters and enraged opponents.

Judge Alito’s 1985 memo unearthed this week that spells out a long-term strategy for overturning federal abortion rights “raises very serious questions about whether Judge Alito has been sincere about his respect for the precedent of Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a woman the right to choose,” warned Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat.

“With Judge Alito, the more we know, the more disturbing it gets,” she said. “We now know that Judge Alito was an architect of a legal strategy designed to overturn Roe v. Wade through the back door. The burden is now on Judge Alito to explain these discrepancies.”

Democrats say their concerns about Judge Alito go beyond the issue of abortion rights and have raised new rumblings that his nomination could be filibustered. They say that Judge Alito has been less than forthcoming about his involvement in certain cases — particularly one abortion-related case — during his career.

“There’s a troubling pattern emerging of Judge Alito giving multiple or evasive statements about his past work experience,” said Rebecca Kirszner, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. “He must explain these inconsistencies in his hearing before the Judiciary Committee” next month.

Most alarming this week was a 17-page memo Judge Alito wrote as a lawyer in the Reagan administration advising strategy on the abortion case Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, wrote Judge Alito yesterday demanding to know why he hadn’t included that case among the significant ones he’d worked on.

“Although your questionnaire response mentions your work on some 34 specific Supreme Court cases, there is no mention of the Thornburgh case,” wrote Mr. Schumer, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the committee, called the concerns “manufactured hysteria.”

“It is now absolutely clear that Judge Alito’s opponents have exhausted any and all rational opposition to Judge Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Cornyn said yesterday. The committee’s questionnaire simply asks Judge Alito to “list the cases in which he practiced before the Supreme Court,” he said.

“We do not need nominees to tell us every matter in which they made even an informal contribution in the Solicitor General’s Office,” Mr. Cornyn said. “Every member of that office makes some contribution to every case the office handles before the Supreme Court. To ask nominees to list all such informal contributions is to ask them simply to list every case pending in the Solicitor’s General Office while they were there. That would, of course, render that question meaningless.”

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