Democrats question Alito's independence - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Democrats question Alito's independence

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says he wants to know how independent from the Bush administration Samuel Alito would be as Supreme Court justice.

In a prepared opening statement for today's confirmation hearing, Patrick Leahy says the top court "is the ultimate check and balance in our system." He says independence "is crucial." Fellow Democrat Dick Durbin says Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement "will truly tip the balance of the scales of justice in America."

Democrat Charles Schumer of New York is promising in his opening statement that he will try to pin Alito down on abortion. He says he'll ask, "Do you still 'personally believe very strongly that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion?"'

President Bush this morning called Alito "eminently qualified" for the court.

Opening statements from the panel's 18 members will likely take up today's opening session of the confirmation hearings. Alito will likely take questions tomorrow.

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