A Conservative Perspective on the Alito Nomination

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Steve Inskeep talks about the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito with Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative think tank American Center for Law and Justice


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

President Bush made a major move this morning. He nominated Samuel Alito to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. The next moves belong to lawmakers who will consider that nomination and the interest groups that will try to influence the process. And we're about to hear from members of two of those interest groups. First Jay Sekulow. He's chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is a conservative think tank. Sekulow told us earlier this morning the nominee is the conservative he's been hoping for.

Mr. JAY SEKULOW (American Center for Law and Justice): Judge Alito is the kind of nominee that the president has long promised; that is, someone with a traditional philosophy similar to Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas. And I'll tell you something else. We've looked at all of his opinions and, across the board, on a range of issues from federalism to abortion to religious expression in public places, this is a conservative judicial nominee and I think, for those that are advocating on my side, this is exactly the kind of nominee we want. This is going to tilt the court in a more conservative direction. There's no doubt about that.

INSKEEP: You don't expect any kind of fight as came with Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court?

Mr. SEKULOW: You have a unified conservative base here without a doubt.

INSKEEP: Can you give me your analysis? You said you've looked at all of his cases.


INSKEEP: Key points when it comes to, well, the one issue that a lot of people use as kind of a weather vane on Supreme Court nominees, Roe vs. Wade. Where does he stand?

Mr. SEKULOW: I think he's where Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas and probably where Justice--the chief justice, Chief Justice Roberts is. These are not nominees now judges that are going to legislate from the bench. I think if you take a look at a couple of abortion cases coming up, he won't be there in time for the parental notification case but it is possible, if that case is re-argued, I think he's a clear vote. He's already ruled that way in other opinions in the lower courts. You take the partial-birth abortion case which is there now and I think it's very clear that he carries the kind of clout and judicial philosophy that's going to say Congress was well within its authority to ban partial-birth abortions.

INSKEEP: Chief Justice Roberts went through his hearings saying that he agreed there was a right to privacy--he didn't speak directly on Roe vs. Wade--and also saying that he had great respect for precedents of the court...

Mr. SEKULOW: Yeah.

INSKEEP: ...which some people took to mean including precedents on abortion. Do you think that is where Alito stands as well?

Mr. SEKULOW: I do. I think he's going to have great respect for precedents. But having said that, exactly what John Roberts said was that was not the end of the discussion. It's a starting point, it's not the end point. And I think you're going to see more of that kind of analysis coming out. The right to privacy is recognized in various portions of the Constitution and I think that will be probably what Judge Alito says. But having said that, I think, look, this is a conservative judicial nominee. The president--everybody's using these baseball analogies and I really hate doing this, but if it was a baseball analogy, this was a grand slam.

INSKEEP: Keep that grand slam analogy in mind for a moment if you would. That came from Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is a conservative group.

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