The U.S. Senate has confirmed Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in a largely party-line vote. He is poised to become the 110th justice on the high court, succeeding Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Senator Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, announced the vote as he presided over the Senate.
STEVENS: "On this vote, the ayes are 58, the nays are 42. The president's nomination of Samuel A. Alito, Jr. of New Jersey to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed."
The vote fell generally along party lines, with all but one of the Senate's majority Republicans voting in favor of Judge Samuel Alito. All but four of the Democrats voted against the nomination.
The lone Republican who opposed Alito was Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who is facing a tough reelection battle this year in the Democrat-leaning state.
The confirmation vote culminated weeks of often bitter, partisan debate over the nomination at the start of the mid-term election year.
Democrats expressed concerns that Judge Samuel Alito, a conservative, would tilt the ideological balance of the court, noting that as he is succeeding Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate, who often cast the deciding vote in five-to-four rulings in controversial cases.
"The president continues to choose confrontation over consensus, and to be a divider rather than the 'uniter' that he promised Americans he would be," said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. "Rather than send us a nominee for all Americans, the president chose a divisive nominee who raises grave concerns about whether he would be a check on presidential power."
Still, an effort by prominent Democrats to block the nomination from coming to a vote failed on Monday.
Republicans praised Alito as well qualified, and took aim at Democratic critics for misrepresenting his record.
"It has been most distressing to me to have this nominee, the epitome of a restrained and principled, highly respected judge, be portrayed as some sort of extremist," said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. "It is above my comprehension, frankly."
Alito, son of an Italian immigrant, has worked as a lawyer and prosecutor before becoming an appeals court judge 15 years ago. During Senate confirmation hearings, he sought to assure lawmakers that once on the high court he would not have an agenda.