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Alito Begins High Court Confirmation Hearings

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Alito Begins High Court Confirmation Hearings

Law

Alito Begins High Court Confirmation Hearings

Alito Begins High Court Confirmation Hearings

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Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito

Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito is sworn in prior to making his opening statement, Jan. 9. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's confirmation hearings began Monday.

Senators on the Judiciary Committee highlighted abortion, executive power and civil rights as issues on which they plan to question the nominee. Alito also gave an opening statement.

If confirmed, Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the nation's highest court, and would change — perhaps even dramatically transform — the ideological makeup of the court.

The Alito Hearings: Monday's Audio Highlights

Monday's Senate hearings on Judge Samuel Alito focused on opening statements from the 10 Republican and eight Democratic senators on the panel, and from the nominee. Senators noted the issues they plan to question the nominee about, in particular, abortion, the limits of executive power and civil rights. Many of the committee's Democrats focused on how Alito would alter the balance on the court. The 10 Republicans on the panel focused their remarks on praising Alito's legal qualifications and for his record of what they saw as judicial restraint.

Highlights from Monday's Proceedings

Alito on Alito

Listen to highlights from Alito's opening statement:

Alito recounts how his hard-working parents influenced him -- and how Princeton, a campus in turmoil in the '60s and '70s, was a world away from his blue-collar community.

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Alito talks about clerking for a judge who shaped his judicial ethics and about the pride he felt working for the Justice Department.

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Alito contrasts judgeship with practicing law.

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Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) says he finds Alito's 'support for an all-powerful executive branch to be genuinely troubling.'

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says Alito has a 'tremendous record of accomplishment and public service.'

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Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) argues that it would be unfair to ask Alito any question designed to see how he might rule on an issue that might come before the court.

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Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) says Alito has shown 'hostility to individual rights' in his legal record and in memos he wrote as a Reagan administration lawyer in the 1980s.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questions whether Alito will abide by the precedent of 'Roe v. Wade.'

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Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) defends Alito's record on racial discrimination cases.

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Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) questions the ethics behind Alito's failure to recuse himself from a case involving the mutual fund company Vanguard, with which Alito has investments.

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In a 1985 memo, Alito wrote that he did not believe the Constitution protected the right to abortion. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says that this is not a reason to filibuster Alito, and that there is no right answer to the abortion debate.

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says Alito gives 'the impression of applying careful legal reasoning... but in the end, you always seem to chart a right-ward course.'

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) says Supreme Court justices should not 'use that position to impose their personal policy preferences or political agenda on the American people.'

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Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) questions whether Alito, like O'Connor, could be the Supreme Court's 'fifth vote to protect the right to privacy.'

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Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) says Alito's hearing comes 'at a time of great national concern about the balance between civil rights and the president's national security authority.'

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