Alito confirmed to US Senate

The conservative judge Samuel Alito was confirmed by the US Congress yesterday to the Supreme Court – which seems to have been somewhat lost in the UK coverage of Bush’s State of the Nation speech. The Supreme Court is responsible for interpreting the constitution and, effectively, deciding what is \x96 and is not \x96 legal in the US.

Regular readers will know that we follow nominations to the Supreme Court carefully (see here for why you should care about nominations) as there is a real and immediate danger that the Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that \x91legalised\x92 abortion in the USA.

Alito is the second conservative judge to be elected to the Supreme Court by Bush \x96 Senator John Roberts was elected to replace the late William Rehnquist as Chief Justice last year. Alito replaces Sandra Day O\x92Connor, a more moderate judge who often cast a pivotal vote amongst the broadly conservative panel of judges.

During his confirmation hearings, Justice Alito was unwilling to state categorically that he considered Roe vs Wade "settled law" (which John Roberts *was* prepared to say), and Fox News reported last November on a leaked memo from the 1980s in which he said "The court’s decision to review these cases nevertheless may be a positive sign [\x85] What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?". He was at one point the only judge in his court to argue that a woman should in certain circumstances be required to notify her spouse before seeking an abortion.

As well as his views on abortion, his views on gay and minority ethnic rights have been called into question \x96 in short he\x92s an all-round right-wing bad guy. People for the American way have an interesting site setting out the case against Alito for those who want further info.

It feels like a bad week to be a feminist. Nothing but doom and gloom lately \x85