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A Supreme battle? Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court sets the stage for an ideological fight in the Senate.

Before this summer, there had not been a vacancy on the 9-member Supreme Court for a decade. For much of that time, liberals and conservatives were preparing for a fight that both sides see as affecting the Court's direction for decades to come.

That's why the stakes are so high in the battle over Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., 55, whom President Bush has nominated to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26 1930) is an American jurist who served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was considered a strict constructionist. .

While vacancies on the Court have long been expected, the past few months have seen a flurry of activity. In July, O'Connor announced her intention to retire, and Bush nominated John G. Roberts Jr. to replace her. But before his Senate confirmation hearings began, Chief Justice William Rehnquist Noun 1. William Rehnquist - United States jurist who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1972 until 1986, when he was appointed chief justice (born in 1924)
Rehnquist, William Hubbs Rehnquist
 died of thyroid cancer Thyroid Cancer Definition

Thyroid cancer is a disease in which the cells of the thyroid gland become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and form a mass of cells called a tumor.
 and Bush shifted his nomination of Roberts to fill the Chief Justice's seat instead.


Roberts was confirmed by a 78-22 Senate vote in September, after very civil hearings. In early October, Bush selected White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers to fill O'Connor's seat, but her nomination proved increasingly controversial, and she withdrew three weeks later.

Alito, her replacement, has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia for 15 years. His decisions, legal scholars say, have been methodical me·thod·i·cal   also me·thod·ic
1. Arranged or proceeding in regular, systematic order.

2. Characterized by ordered and systematic habits or behavior. See Synonyms at orderly.
, respectful re·spect·ful  
Showing or marked by proper respect.

re·spectful·ly adv.
 of precedent, and solidly conservative. O'Connor has been the swing vote on many issues, so replacing her with a staunch conservative could significantly affect the balance of the Court. Not surprisingly, liberal groups have called Alito a threat to abortion rights, civil liberties, and gun control, while conservative groups have given him glowing endorsements.

Debate over the criteria the Senate should use in considering nominees is as old as the Constitution itself, which says only that judges will be appointed by the President "with the advice and consent of the Senate."


Should education, experience, and integrity be the determining factors? Or should ideology, a nominee's political leanings and predictable stands on the judicial disputes of the day also play a role? Alito's 15-year paper trail of judicial opinions will give opponents ammunition to use against him.

The son of an Italian immigrant, Alito went to Princeton and Yale Law School Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1843, the school offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars and several legal research centers. . He has worked in the Justice Department and as a U.S. Attorney. Senate hearings on Alito's nomination are set for January.

Todd S Todd , Sir Alexander Robertus 1907-1997.

British chemist. He won a 1957 Nobel Prize for his study of nucleic acids and nucleotide structures.
. Purdum is a Washington correspondent for The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times; additional reporting by Neil A. Lewis and Scott Shane of The Times.
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Title Annotation:NATIONAL
Author:Purdum, Todd S.
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Date:Nov 28, 2005
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