Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said, regarding a recently released 1985 document that showed his conservative stance on abortion, that as a federal judge he rules based on the law without personal views, according to Democrat senators on Tuesday.
Alito said in the 20 year old application when he was applying for the deputy assistant attorney general for the Reagan administration, "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that…the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." It was released on Mon. by the National Libraries with other documents.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Alito about the application on Tuesday. He told her according to the Washington Post that "it was different then, I was an advocate seeking a job…, a political job in 1985."
"I'm now a judge" that has "been on the circuit court for 15 years and it's very different," he added. "I don’t give heed to my personal views," but I "interpret the law," the Post reported.
Feinstein, a supporter of abortion rights and one of the members on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that she believed Alito and found him "to be smart and sincere," but reiterated, with many other senators, that she will not know how she will rule until the confirmation hearings begin on Jan. 9.
Alito's stance on abortion will be questioned at the confirmation hearings since the recent developments of the 1985 document and other past cases that he argued. In 1991, he wrote an opinion to uphold a Pennsylvania law that required a woman to notify her husband before having an abortion, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992.
President Bush nominated Alito on Oct. 31 as the replacement for Justice Sandra Day O' Connor, the Court's swing vote on contentious issues that included abortion. He was the second choice after counsel Harriet Miers withdrew under criticisms made by conservatives.
Liberals are concerned that if Alito is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, who glided through his confirmation hearings, will overturn the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973, Roe v. Wade, but Alito has made no indication that he would.
Since Alito, then 35 year old and an assistant to the solicitor general, applied for the job in the Reagan administration, he told Democrats that he has grown over the years.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said according to AP that Alito told him "that he's learned more," and "has a better grasp and understanding about the constitutional rights and liberties.”
"But the real criteria that all of us look for is whether the nominee is going to have a core commitment to the constitutional values and liberties and interests of the American people," Kennedy added to the AP.
After his nomination was announced, conservative Christian groups such as the National Clergy Council, Concerned Women for America and the Liberty Council hailed Bush's nominee and are supporting his confirmation as the 110th Justice of the United States.