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Specter to quiz Alito on Bush domestic spying authorization

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [official website] has said that he will ask US Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive] about the constitutionality of President Bush's authorization of domestic spying [JURIST report]. In a letter Monday, Specter, who will preside over Alito's confirmation hearing [JURIST report] next month, also asked Alito to be prepared to answer whether he agreed with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's recent assertion in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld [OYEZ backgrounder; PDF opinion] that "war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." Specifically, Specter asked, "In light of Justice O'Connor's statement, what jurisprudential theory would you invoke to evaluate the limits on the president's authority to conduct surveillance on U.S. citizens without going through the court system?" The Bush administration has maintained [JURIST report] that the US Constitution and the congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force [text], which was passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks and urged the president to respond with "all necessary and appropriate force", provide Bush ample authority to permit eavesdropping even against US citizens and without a court order. Specter and other Republicans, along with top Democrats [JURIST report], have promised a congressional investigation into Bush's recently disclosed orders to permit such warrantless eavesdropping by the National Security Agency [official website]. AP has more.

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