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Abortion likely key issue in Alito confirmation hearing

[JURIST] Reaction from Capitol Hill Monday to President Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito [JURIST report] of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the US Supreme Court seat left vacant by retiring justice Sandra Day O'Connor has primarily focused on one issue: Alito's judicial views on abortion. In a statement Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid [official website], stated that the "[S]enate needs to find out if [Alito] is too radical for the American people". Echoing Reid's concern, ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy [official website] suggested [press release] that "the person replacing [Justice O'Connor] has the potential to dramatically tilt the court's balance", and should be someone with the bipartisan support of the Senate and American people. Both statements allude to Alito's frequent comparison to conservative US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and his participation in a 1991 Third Circuit decision [US News report] in which he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. Alito's position on abortion is viewed by many to be potential tipping point within the court. Republican Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter [official website], who will oversee the confirmation hearings, said Monday that Alito's views on abortion will be the "hot-button issue" of the hearings. AP has more.

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