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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2005
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EDITORIAL

No time for 'up or down' confirmation Senate vote

Opponents to a right-wing judge being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court may find their role a bit easier in the upcoming confirmation hearings for latest nominee Samuel Alito.

President Bush will have more difficulty blaming them if the federal judge's Senate confirmation hearings get testy and drawn out, given the fate of Harriet Miers.

Opponents to Judge Alito's nomination have only to point to poor Ms. Miers' inability to get her confirmation hearings started because of right wing opposition.

So, when the president rails against Democrats and pleads for an "up or down" vote, he's got the Miers' baggage weighing down his admonitions.

The president badly misjudged his core constituency when he tapped Ms. Miers. Rather than allow the confirmation process to work, he withdrew her nomination and picked Judge Alito, who most experts say has true right-wing credentials.

If so, his confirmation most likely would pave the way for overturning decades of court rulings, including Roe v. Wade.

The president is good at making things seem what they are not. But it's going to be difficult for him to label Democrats as obstructionists in Judge Alito's hearings, if they rock on for weeks.

The president's miscalculations on Ms. Miers was his doing. It was his supporters, not Democrats, who killed her confirmation hearings before they started.

Judge Alito would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose swing votes kept the divided court somewhere near the center of American thought. With his confirmation, the court would take a sharp turn to the right.

That possibility deserves serious debate and far more than the "up or down" vote that the president didn't give Ms. Miers.

Senators should keep reminding the president of that during the hearings.

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