Well, we're definitely going to have the War Over Judicial Philosophy that the hardliners on the Right were hoping for before the Miers nomination. Alito's position on issues likely to come before the Court is fairly clear, and his resume is impressive. It seems likely that he would be much like former Chief Justice Rehnquist on the Court, and that is a prospect that Democrats cannot enjoy, given that Alito has been nominated to replace Justice O'Connor, a rather waffly Rightist vote.
Initial opposition from Senate Democrats, however, was not as intense as one might have expected. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) said, "The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people." Fair enough. Teddy Kennedy (MA) said, "Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not on strength." That may sound fairly harsh, but it's nothing when compared with the tirade he engaged in upon the nomination of Judge Bork to the Court two decades ago. Of course, there's still time for Teddy to ratchet up the rhetoric. . . .
The interim president of Planned Parenthood, a group that lobbies for universal, legal access to abortions, called the nomination "outrageous," which was only to be expected. Alito's position on abortion, however, has been more nuanced than the Planned Parenthood president's statement suggests. In 2000, he voted to strike down a New Jersey law banning late-term abortions, as unconstitutional. His reasoning in the case, however, appears to have been based on a simple attempt to follow the Supreme Court's Roe and post-Roe precedents in abortion cases. That does not quite tell us how he would vote if given a chance to affect the Court's position on those issues.
It will be an interesting debate.