FEINSTEIN, BOXER VOTE AGAINST ALITO CONFIRMATION,
CITE RIGHTS CONCERNS
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
January 31, 2006
California's two U.S. senators both voted against the confirmation
of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito today and said concerns
over women's reproductive rights were a factor.
Alito, 55, previously a federal appeals court judge in Philadelphia,
was sworn into office on the high court today after the Senate
voted to confirm President Bush's nomination by a 58-42 vote.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats from
the Bay area, voted against confirmation.
Both cited concerns about women's reproductive rights when they
joined the seven other Democratic women senators Monday in a series
of statements explaining why all nine planned to vote against
Feinstein said, "I am very concerned about the impact Judge
Alito could have on women's rights, including a woman's right
to make certain reproductive choices as limited by state regulation."
Feinstein said she believed Alito's legal philosophy "will
essentially swing the court far out of the mainstream." Boxer
said, "To my mind, Judge Alito's ominous statement and narrow
minded reasoning clearly signal a hostility to women's rights."
Boxer continued, "In the 21st century, it is astounding
that a Supreme Court nominee would not view Roe v. Wade as settled
law when its fundamental principle -- a woman's right to choose
-- has been reaffirmed many times since it was decided."
Roe v. Wade was the 1973 decision in which the Supreme Court
said women have a constitutional privacy right to abortion during
the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
But a California group that opposes abortion and supports traditional
values said Alito's confirmation "provides hope to pro family
Americans that decades-old wrongs will be righted."
Randy Thomasson, president of the Sacramento-based Campaign for
Children and Families, said, "Alito's strict constructionism
is a breath of fresh air."
Thomasson said with Alito now on the bench, the nine-member high
court "seems one vote away from eliminating partial-birth
abortion, respecting marriage by a man and a woman, prosecuting
obscenity, restoring parent rights in education and protecting
religious expression in public life."
By coincidence, the confirmation vote came on the same day that
two separate federal appeals courts struck down a U.S. abortion
law that is likely to be considered by the Supreme Court.
Both the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and
the 2nd Circuit in New York upheld lower court rulings overturning
a 2003 federal law known as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
A similar ruling issued by the 8th Circuit in St. Louis in a
Nebraska case last year has already been appealed by the Justice
Department to the Supreme Court.
Alito will participate in the panel's decision on whether to
review the 8th Circuit ruling as well as the other two circuit
court rulings if those are also appealed by the Justice Department.
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