January 23, 2006

Most Americans back Alito for Supreme Court: poll

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Public support for Senate
confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito grew
slightly to 54 percent after his often stormy Senate hearing, a
poll released on Monday showed.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey also found that only about
one in three Americans believe President George W. Bush's
conservative candidate would vote, as critics fear, to reverse
the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which held Alito's
confirmation hearing this month, was to vote on Tuesday on
whether to recommend that he be confirmed by the full
Republican-led, 100-member Senate.

With the Senate to begin debate on Wednesday, Alito, a
federal appeals judge since 1990, appeared headed toward

If approved, Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra
Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative who often has been the
swing vote on the nine-member court on social issues such as
abortion rights and civil rights.

At his hearing, Republicans hailed Alito as "mainstream
conservative" who had received the American Bar Association's
top rating.

Democrats voiced concerns that he would move the court too
far to the right.

The three-day telephone poll of 1,006 adult Americans was
begun on January 20, a week after his confirmation hearing

According to the survey, the percentage of Americans who
believed Alito should be confirmed rose to 54 percent from 49
percent. Those opposed remained unchanged at 30 percent.

Most of the Senate's 44 Democrats and one independent are
expected to oppose Alito. But none has threatened a filibuster,
which would permit unlimited debate intended to kill the

Bush noted on Monday that 14 senators -- seven Democrats
and seven Republicans -- agreed last year to oppose filibusters
of judicial nominees unless there are "extraordinary

"There has been no sign of any extraordinary circumstance
except for this extraordinary thing -- he's extraordinarily
capable to serve on the Supreme Court," Bush said in fielding
questions at Kansas State University.