Alito Hearings: Thursday's Audio Highlights

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito walks away from his table

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito walks away from his table after four days of public testimony in his Senate confirmation hearings, Jan. 12, 2006. Alito completed his testimony Thursday. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

Witness Testimony Begins

The first of 31 witnesses began testifying before the Senate Committee, including three representatives of the American Bar Association, which gave Judge Alito its highest ranking. A group of judges who have worked with Alito on the U.S. Court of Appeals also testified in support of his nomination, followed by three witnesses in favor of his nomination and three opposed. The favorable witnesses tended to speak about Alito's character while the negative witnesses focused on his past judicial opinions.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5155781" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5155773" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5155775" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5155777" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito fielded questions almost exclusively from Democrats during his final day of public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Alito was pressed on right-to-die and death penalty cases, the limits of presidential authority and other issues, but rarely gave more than general answers that avoided his personal views.

PRESIDENTIAL POWER

As they have throughout the hearings, Democrats peppered Alito with questions about the reach of presidential authority. Alito said that the extent of the president's power to authorize the use of military force without congressional authority isn't settled. Other questions probed the legality of the warrantless domestic-surveillance program authorized by President Bush.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151810" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151812" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151830" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151814" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

COMPARISONS TO O'CONNOR

Democrats have repeatedly asked whether Alito would follow in the mold of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he would replace if confirmed. O'Connor has provided the decisive vote in many momentous rulings. Democrats contend that Alito would take the court in a more conservative direction.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151572" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151574" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

DEATH PENALTY

Alito was asked several questions about the death penalty and whether the Constitution bars the execution of an innocent person.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151707" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151711" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

END-OF-LIFE ISSUES

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought up the case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who was at the center of a long battle between her husband and family over whether she should be allowed to die. The debate was taken up by Congress and the courts. Leahy asked Alito whether a patient's wishes should guide decisions on medical treatment.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151699" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

SCHUMER WEIGHS IN

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that Alito had failed to dissociate himself from statements made while he was a Reagan administration lawyer in the 1980s that opposed abortion rights and the one-person, one-vote reapportionment principle. Schumer's statement left little doubt that he plans to oppose Alito's nomination.

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/5151571/5151869" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.