I intend to vote to support Judge Alito's nomination for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, and I do not do that as a matter of having a party line vote or as a matter of party loyalty. If I thought Judge Alito should not be on the Supreme Court,I would vote no, just as I did with Judge Bork.
My commitment to the President as Chairman of this committee is to give them prompt hearings and to vote them out of committee, and I've always believed in that, before I became Chairman. I believe there have been too many delays on both sides, both Democrats and Republicans have delayed hearings on judicial nominees and that led us to an escalation of events, the filibusters, and the possibility of the constitutional or nuclear option. We worked through that, and Senator Leahy and I were instrumental in avoiding what could have been a really cataclysmic event in the Senate. And I have always believed in voting people out of committee, and I recall the days when matters were bottled up in committee and I never agreed with.
I voted against Judge Bork in Committee but I voted to send his nomination to the floor. So in fulfilling my commitment to the President and the Republican Caucus to have prompt hearings and to vote people out of committee--I believed in that before I was Chairman and I believe in it now.
And after fulfilling those duties, whether I vote aye or nay, that's my independent judgment. Under separation of powers, Senators are separate from the Executive Branch, and it would be inappropriate to make a commitment to a vote in advance in any way, and I prize that independence very highly.
With respect to Judge Alito's qualifications, I think they are agreed to. No doubt about the quality of his academic standing at Princeton and Yale, or his erudition or his scholarship working in the Solicitor General's office, Office of Legal Counsel, and then 15 years on the bench.
We've gone very deeply into Judge Alito's background, and studied his record. With respect to his answers which Judge Alito gave, there's going to be differences of views. I thought we had to hear his answers before coming to judgment, and I have urged colleagues on both sides of the aisle not to make up their minds before the hearings are over.
There has been an enormous amount of publicity about Judge Alito, as there was about White House Counsel Harriet Miers. And as I've said before, Ms. Miers was run out of town on a rail. Her nomination was decided on the radio talk shows, TV talk shows, and in the op-ed pages and not by the Committee, which is what the Constitution says should be done. The Senate should make the decision and have a hearing in this committee.
We kept a level playing field for Judge Alito, as I was frankly a little concerned about the opening statements on both sides. A lot of accusations on one side, and a lot of hyperbole on the other. This is not a court of law but I wanted Judge Alito to have a chance to explain where he stood, and not to come to conclusions, the testimony was important.
I think that his answers in a sense went farther than any in the past because he did not say he would not respond because the case might come before the court. He ultimately refused to give judgments about how he would vote, but when the issue was raised, he discussed the considerations that would be involved. On executive power, really a very important subject. As to whether the Resolution for the Authorization of Use of Force comprehends authority to engage in electronic surveillance—and I don't think it does, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is specific on that point—but we're going to have a hearing and we hope to hear—we expect to hear from Attorney General. And the question of whether there's constitutional authority for the President to override a statute because of his Article II power, those questions were put to Judge Alito and he responded with the kinds of considerations which would be involved. And I think he touched all the bases there, but he wasn't going to say how he was going to rule, nor should he.
When it came to the question of court stripping and the amendment taking away habeas corpus jurisdiction for federal courts on detainees, I think that's an atrocious piece of legislation,I think it will be declared unconstitutional. But when he was asked about that, he talked about the considerations involved, not how he was going to decide it.
And on congressional power, I think he agreed that the method of reasoning of Supreme Court Justices is not superior to the method of reasoning of Congress, and there shouldn't be flabby tests. And we talked about Justice Scalia's dissent on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
When it came to Roe v. Wade, I think he went about as far as he could go. He started off by saying he agreed with Griswold and a constitutional right of privacy and the liberty clause, and that it would apply to single people as well in Eisenstadt, and that when he was dealing with Casey, the issue of reliance was very important. That he thought it was critical by analogy to what Chief Justice Rhenquist done in Miranda, that it was a critical factor as to the whether decision was embedded in the culture of the community. And I certainly think from my own point of view Roe is.
And he agreed that it was a living Constitution, subject to change, as Cardozo said in Palko, with the morals and morays of the people.
And we had a lot of discussion as to his views on Roe v. Wade, and what Judge Roberts had said, and from my reading, there's not a dime's worth of difference between what Chief Justice Roberts said and what Judge Alito said about that. Both relied heavily on precedents and said they would not make a final committment nor should they have made a final committment.
[Spoke about judicial panel that testified Alito did not have "an agenda" and "was not an idealogue"]
Those are some of my reasons for supporting Judge Alito. I will prepare a written statement,but I thought it important to state my views now that the hearings are over. I know that I already have been asked many times by the press how I'm going to vote, and I don't want to be coy, and I don't want to hold back. And if the Senate was in session now, I'd wait until the Senate was in session to go to floor and make a statement, but that's how I think it through.
Specter is ignoring Alito's anti-choice record and twisting his testimony to conclude that Alito would not overturn
. Why? Because there are no pro-choice Republicans.