President Bush has
named Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr as the replacement for
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in the wake of first pick
Harriet Miers withdrawing as his nominee after being panned across the
board for her lack of experience. Alito, 55, currently serves on the
Philadelphia-based US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where his
record on abortion rights, gun control and church-state issues has been
widely applauded by conservatives and criticised by liberals, reports The Washington Post.

major battle seems inevitable in the Senate as a number of civil rights
and women’s rights groups vowed to defeat the nomination, declaring
they won’t allow a conservative on such social issues to take the seat
of moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Conservative organisations,
with “equal vigor, geared up in support,” reports the Post.

This is just the battlethat President Bush’s conservative backers and liberal opponents wanted, reports The New York Times.
But Judge Alito’s supporters inside and outside the White House say his
“respectful low-key style, son-of-an-immigrant personal story and
undisputed credentials” will make him an acceptable figure to some of
the same red-state Democrats who backed John Roberts. More importantly,
the White House and its allies are now squarely united, ready to paint
the Democrats as obstructionist and out of step if they try to “derail
the nomination by extraordinary means.” Interest groups on both sides
are prepared to spend millions of dollars to make their case.

blog battlefront experienced a momentary ceasefire over Harriet Mier’s
nomination, with conservative and moderate commentators united in their
criticism of her lack of experience and Bush’s perceived cronyism, but
Alito’s nomination has split them asunder again. The “movement
conservatives wanted a war,” and this time they’ve got one, says Washington Monthly’s Political Animal
blog. Since Alito ruled against abortion rights in one of the most
famous cases of all time, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, he ought to be
“practically a god to the social conservative right. No stealth
candidate this time.”

Bush has nominated a jurist with a solid
track record and a reputation for a “scholarly and consistent approach
to Constitutional issues,” says Captain’s Quarters. And Alito “does not produce a knee-jerk reaction on the Left.” The Volokh Conspiracy
also agrees with the pick, saying, ” …from what I can tell he’s
smart, experienced, and principled. I can’t imagine him not being
confirmed.” Alito is “actually better qualified than even John Roberts,
the acknowledged gold standard,” says The Corner. “Alito? Disaster,” says Surly, “…this new guy looks like a Scalia-sized conservative. Just browsing his wikipedia bio shows off his fairly conservative decisions.”

But President Bush’s nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court is a “fascinating move, politically,” says John R. Kroger in Salon.At
the moment, the president’s polling numbers are “abysmal,” the war in
Iraq promises only more political pain, he has lost some traction with
his right-wing evangelical allies, and the Libby indictment has
“tarnished his team’s reputation for honesty.” So the question for him
and his advisors is: What do we want the country to be debating for the
next two months? Their answer: Go back to the Ronald Reagan game plan,
and “fight about conservative legal values.”