Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Coleman, Dayton keep options open on Alito

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - Minnesota's two U.S. senators weren't rushing to judgment on President Bush's newest nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neither Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton nor Republican Sen. Norm Coleman were willing to say Monday how they'll vote on veteran judge Samuel Alito's bid for a seat on the nation's highest court.

Alito was picked to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Dayton, in a one-sentence written statement, said he wouldn't weigh in "until I have the chance to review his record, and until the conclusion of the Judiciary Committee's hearings."

It was the same initial reaction Dayton gave to two other Bush nominees - John Roberts, who was confirmed as chief justice, and Harriet Miers, who withdrew just weeks after Bush named her to the O'Connor seat.

Dayton voted against Roberts while Coleman supported him.

Coleman also confined his reaction to a written statement. He praised Alito, a federal appeals court judge from New Jersey, as experienced, dedicated and fair-minded. But he stopped short of pledging his vote.

"Judge Alito's outstanding qualifications appear to meet the standard of excellence for Supreme Court nominees, and I look forward to a careful review of the nominee's credentials so that we may have a full, working bench as soon as possible," Coleman said.

He added, "Now is the time to focus on Judge Alito's qualifications and set aside partisan politics so that we may have a fair and dignified confirmation process, ending in a timely up-or-down vote."

Neither Dayton nor Coleman served in the U.S. Senate in 1990 when Alito won confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

David Stras, a University of Minnesota associate law professor and a former Supreme Court clerk, said Alito's selection should open a real debate about important legal issues of the day.

"Moreover, because of his intellect and grasp of constitutional issues, Judge Alito, if confirmed, is likely to have an influence on the intellectual direction of the Court," Stras said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)