McCaskill says she would oppose Alito for Supreme Court

Saturday, January 21, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill came out against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on Friday, saying he is not a moderate like Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat he would fill.

"His comments during his confirmation hearing and his record indicate that he is not someone who would defend civil rights and that he would side in favor of big business over the consumer and presidential power over individual rights," McCaskill said in a written statement.

Her announcement comes a day after Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. -- whom she hopes to unseat -- came out in support of the conservative judge.

Alito is expected to win confirmation in the Senate, but the vote is likely to split along party lines. So far, only a single Democratic senator -- Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- has declared support for Alito.

Republicans in the state say McCaskill's stance places her on the same side as Northeastern liberals like Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who were among the first lawmakers to announce they would vote against Alito.

"Claire McCaskill's opposition to the Alito nomination places her in the select company of a few elite Senate liberals who are contemplating a filibuster," Missouri Republican Party spokesman John Hancock said in a statement on Thursday.

McCaskill -- now Missouri's state auditor -- said she would oppose any effort to filibuster the nomination process.

She also said she would have voted for John Roberts, who was confirmed to the court last year.

"I believe that Missourians want their senator to be an independent voice for their concerns, not a rubber stamp for the administration or the party to which they belong," she said.

Democrats are concerned that Alito would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. As a federal appeals judge, he wanted to uphold a 1980s Pennsylvania abortion restriction later overturned by the Supreme Court. Alito told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would approach the issue with an open mind.

Many predicted McCaskill's stance after Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean leaked the news on Monday -- without consulting McCaskill -- during a speech in Kansas City, Mo.

As recently as Thursday night, McCaskill spokesman Tony Wyche disavowed Dean's comments, saying Dean was not speaking on the candidate's behalf.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Alito's nomination. The full Senate is expected to debate the nomination on Wednesday.

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