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Key Senate Democrats Will Oppose Supreme Court Nomination


Top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they will oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Democrats who announced their opposition to Judge Samuel Alito's nomination say the nominee's record and his responses to questions during last week's Judiciary Committee hearings do not leave them convinced that he would be an impartial justice on the high court.

These Democrats, who have been outspoken critics of President Bush's decision to order, without warrants, eavesdropping on American citizens suspected of having ties to terrorists, believe Alito is too deferential to presidential power.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, made his comments in a Washington speech.

"At a time when the president is seizing unprecedented power, the Supreme Court needs to be a check and balance, it needs to provide balance," he said. "I have no confidence that Judge Alito would provide that check and balance."

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois echoed the comments in separate speeches.

If confirmed, Alito would succeed the retiring Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor, who is considered a moderate, and who often cast the deciding vote in five-to-four decisions in controversial cases on the high court. Democrats fear Alito would shift the balance of the court in a more conservative direction.

Kennedy says he remains concerned that Alito would try to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.

"Judge Alito's testimony failed to resolve the very serious concerns that he's itching to overturn Roe v. Wade," he said.

Despite likely opposition from many Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, the Republican-led panel is expected to vote next Tuesday to send the nomination to the full Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, for expected confirmation by the end of the month.

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