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Much Ado About Alito or Abortion?

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Analyzing how the battle for the Alito nomination will play out has thus far focused upon the respectively pronounced sides of the political spectrum, with much discussion as to how the more liberal and conservative members will be engaged throughout the process.

Overlooked to date though is the critical role that Republican moderates will appear to play in the eventual nomination decision.

With Republicans holding 55 of the Senate’s 100 seats — and with Democrats raising the possibility of a filibuster, in which 41 senators could prevent a confirmation vote — Alito can withstand few Republican defections if Democrats solidly oppose him. That is by no means certain, experts note, but it is possible.

“I think the moderate, or pro-choice, Republicans will likely determine the fate of this nomination,” said University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional expert.

Julian E. Zelizer, a Boston University history professor who has written extensively on Congress, agreed. “This nomination is going to put pro-choice Republican senators in an extremely uncomfortable position,” he said. “The reality is that most Republicans who are not strong pro-life advocates were much happier when the abortion issue was not on the front pages.”

Kinda of ironic that Republican moderates could be pressured on this one issue to rule against a nominee that otherwise would presumbly receive their support. Will they forsake other cogent considerations in the nomination process as a result of this politically charged issue?

Is this fervor over Roe v. Wade clouding other fundamental issues that should be given equal consideration in evaluation of Alito’s constitutional law capabilities?

During the span of the next appointed Justice’s tenure, there will be a multitude of rulings affecting various interest groups. That’s why we can’t afford to have judgement clouded in this process and step over the boundaries that were established for the powers associated with the High Court.

One issue, no matter how “hot,” should not be the sole driver in determining whether a nominee is qualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Rather it should be based upon character, judicial skill, and an unshakeable understanding and demonstration of constitutional law.