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“In the field of law, I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate,” he added.

The document also provides the clearest picture to date of Mr. Alito’s intellectual development as a conservative.

“When I first became interested in government and politics during the 1960s, the greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley Jr., the National Review, and Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign,” he said. “In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment.”

Republicans are relishing the opportunity to defend Judge Alito’s support for judicial restraint, saying it puts him squarely in the majority of American public opinion.

As evidence, they pointed to public outrage over a 2002 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that said the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. More recently, the Supreme Court has ruled that government can seize property and give it to a private party for the sake of the “public good.” Other Supreme Court rulings have cited international law.

“We’re delighted to have a debate over judicial philosophy and the proper role of courts in America,” a Republican strategist said. “That’s a debate the Republican Party wins every time.”

Republicans also pointed out that Judge Alito’s devotion to Reagan administration policy was reminiscent of those of Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who also served in the Reagan administration and was confirmed in September by all Republicans and half the Democrats in the Senate.

“The notion that working for the Reagan administration is a disqualifier for serving on the Supreme Court was decisively refuted by 78 votes earlier in the summer when John Roberts was confirmed,” said the official close to the Alito nomination process.