Alito Sworn In as Justice After 58-42 Party Line Vote

Alito Sworn In as Justice After 58-42 Party Line Vote
Kat Khan
WASHINGTON —Samuel Alito Jr., who has been widely praised for his intellect and integrity but both admired and assailed for his conservative judicial philosophy, was sworn in today as the 110th justice in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ceremony, held at the Supreme Court, came shortly after Alito was confirmed by a sharply divided Senate, which voted 58 to 42, largely along party lines.

Alito's supporters have described him as a jurist who would not seek to undo the work of legislators and adopt his own agenda. His detractors say he has consistently sided with big government and big business, and that he does not believe a woman has a right to an abortion.

But attorney Lawrence Walters expressed significant concern about Alito’s appointment.

“The adult industry and the attorneys that represent it must be very careful which cases they bring to the Supreme Court in this new era," Walters told XBiz. "We can no longer assume that existing First Amendment precedent is going to be followed by this Court. With the previous makeup of the Court … there were always a few dissenters when it came to upholding the rights of the adult industry, but we could assume the basic principles would be followed — like the fact that sexually explicit speech is presumed to be protected by the First Amendment. We can't be so sure about that anymore with Alito's confirmation and the conservative majority it brings to the High Court.”

However, Walters also added that Alito can not pursue any "actions" against the adult industry because he is not a prosecutor.

“He just judges cases that are brought to him, along with the other Justices,” Walters told XBiz. “The problem is, he replaces [Sandra Day] O'Connor, the swing vote, which kept the court in balance.”

In a news conference after the vote, some Republicans noted the partisan fight that had ensued over the Alito nomination, especially over the concern about how the judge would rule on cases involving abortion rights.

"There have been a great many concerns raised about how [Alito] is going to vote on specific cases," Sen. Arlen Specter said, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "[A]nd we have seen in the long history of the court that there's no way to determine in advance how a nominee is going to vote."

Among two Republican supporters of abortion rights, Senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine voted for Alito, while Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island voted no, the only Republican to do so. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont, an independent, voted against the nomination.

Alito also won the support of four Democrats: Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, added later, "I must say that I wish the president was in a position to do more than claim a partisan victory tonight. The union would be better and stronger and more unified if we were confirming a different nominee, a nominee who could have united us more than divided us.”

Alito, who sat as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for some 15 years, is only 55 and could sit on the Supreme Court for decades.

Alito earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton, then attended law school at Yale Law School, graduating in 1972 and receiving a military commission through the school’s R.O.T.C. program. He served three months on active duty in 1975, though he remained in the Army Reserve until 1980. Before the first President Bush elevated him to the appeals court in 1990, he worked mostly as a government lawyer in a number of positions in Washington and New Jersey, including a stint as U.S. attorney there.