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US Senate Hearings on Supreme Court Nominee Wrap Up

The U.S. Senate hearings into the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court have concluded with testimony from witnesses. Some 30 witnesses testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of, or against Judge Samuel Alito's nomination.

Kate Michelman, the former president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, echoed concerns of many Democrats who argue that Alito's record suggests that, if confirmed, the nominee would seek to erode abortion rights:

"There is much in his record that indicates clearly and beyond the boundaries of reasonable dispute that he rejects the idea of privacy, personal privacy as a fundamental American ideal," she said. "A woman's right to choose is a powerful manifestation of privacy."

Democrats expressed frustration earlier this week when Alito refrained from calling the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion settled law, describing it instead as an important precedent.

Democrats have also expressed concern about Alito's record dealing with presidential powers.

If confirmed, Alito would succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is considered a moderate and who often cast the deciding vote in 5-4 rulings in controversial cases. Democrats fear Alito would shift the balance of the court in a more conservative direction.

But Republicans dismiss the criticism and say Alito is well-qualified for the high court.

Their arguments were echoed by Edna Ball Axelrod, who - like Alito - is an appeals court judge.

"Those of us who know him know he is not an ideologue, and that he does not use his position to pursue personal agendas," she said.

Alito is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-led Senate later this month.