- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

Democrats broke against Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. yesterday, one day after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid signaled his clear disappointment in the nomination.

Three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said they will oppose him next week. Also, a key centrist Democrat who is not on the committee announced yesterday that he will vote against the nomination.

“Judge Alito would place too much power in the hands of the president of the United States, at the cost of the protective system of checks and balances built into our constitution,” said Sen. Ken Salazar, Colorado Democrat.

Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois joined Mr. Salazar yesterday in opposing the nomination.

Still, Judge Alito is expected to be confirmed next week with the approval of virtually all Republicans and at least a handful of Democrats. Several Democrats have indicated that they will not support a filibuster of the nominee, meaning only 51 votes would be needed for confirmation.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only Democrat to have announced his support for the nominee, but others have made favorable statements about Judge Alito.

“Despite the ongoing attacks from the hard left and their allies in the Senate, Judge Alito should be and will be confirmed,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican. “And though some invested in his defeat the day the nomination was announced, Judge Alito earned bipartisan support.”

Republican Sens. John W. Warner of Virginia, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and John E. Sununu of New Hampshire officially announced yesterday that they will support the nomination.

“He understands the law and the Constitution extremely well, and I think one of the abilities he showed was to clearly describe how he ruled, why he ruled, and what factors were critical to particular cases,” Mr. Sununu said. “That’s an indication that his service on the court and his view of the Constitution is rooted in principle.”

Meanwhile, Judge Alito continued meeting with senators.

Democratic Sens. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware Robert Menendez of New Jersey met with the nominee yesterday, but said they remain undecided.

Off Capitol Hill, the conservative group Committee for Justice began airing a series of new radio commercials yesterday aimed at winning over six Democrats from conservative states.

Targeted are Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Byron L. Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

Under the latest agreement between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Mr. Leahy, the Alito nomination will be voted on by the committee Tuesday. Majority Leader Bill Frist says Judge Alito will be confirmed by the end of next week.

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