Wednesday, November 02, 2005


A Democrat giving the GOP a talking point when they need it most:
A centrist Democratic senator complimented Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Wednesday as a jurist who won't "hammer away and chisel away" existing law.

While Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record) did not endorse President Bush's latest nominee for the high court, he did say he was impressed by what he heard from Alito during his introductory visit.

The Nebraska Democrat, who was Alito's first senatorial host Wednesday, told reporters that he got assurances that Alito would not be "judicial activist" or "take an agenda to the bench" if confirmed to succeed Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring.

"He assured me that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda," said Nelson, one of the founding members of the centrist "Gang of 14" senators who earlier this year worked out a compact aimed at avoiding judicial filibusters except in the direst of circumstances.

Some liberals, pointing to Alito's rulings as a federal appellate court judge on abortion, gun control, the death penalty and other issues have already raised the threat of a filibuster — an attempt to deny the 55-year-old lawyer a yes-or-no vote by the full Senate. Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate, and while confirmation requires a simple majority, it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.
Did Nelson need to give the GOP this talking point ONE day after Reid's masterful closed Senate move?


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