The full U.S. Senate has begun its debate on President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday confirmed Alito on a party-line vote. The committee's 10 Republicans approved the nomination, while the eight Democrats on the panel rejected the conservative federal judge.
Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid said he plans to oppose the nomination, saying he believes Alito would not be an independent check on the executive branch at a time when the president is abusing power.
But South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham dismissed Democratic party opposition, saying they are merely playing politics with the nomination.
The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to confirm Alito, perhaps by the end of this week. He would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate who has been an important swing vote in many cases.