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Scalito It Is

It's Scalito.  100% guaranteed to send Ralph Neas and Nan Aron into cardiac arrest and to put the  Senate Dems on a war footing.  The main focus, of course, will be Alito's dissent in the abortion rights case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Patterico has already done the analysis on it, and you can read it (in part) for yourself here.

For more on Alito, see this recent US News profile and this more dated look from Law.com. We've set up an Alito resource page with bio information and links to notable opinions.

Now quickly to the politics. You can expect almost every Dem to oppose Alito.  But as I've written before, the nomination really comes down to a Republican Gang of Four:  McCain, Graham, Warner, and DeWine. The GOP can (and probably will) lose the usual "moderate" suspects in Chafee, Collins, and Snowe.  They can afford to lose up to two more Senators and still have 50 votes, which would allow Cheney to come down and cast the tie-breaker (something that would drive the Dems even more insane). 

So Bush has to have at least two of the Republican Gang of Four supporting Alito, and that's assuming there are no other random defections in the GOP ranks (like, say, Voinovich). Yesterday Graham made some aggressive noise that a filibuster would not be tolerated, and McCain has made similar sounding statements recently which would suggest this nomination is going to be in decent shape when all the dust settles. And there will be a lot of dust.

Obviously, the other key player in this drama is Arlen Specter.  He's pro-choice but has ties to the NJ-born, long-time 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals judge. It's hard to imagine Specter won't support Alito, and his blessing will provide additional cover for members of the GOP caucus who might start feeling uncomfortable when the liberal attack machine revs up and portrays Alito as a right wing monster. Specter also has control over the process, which is no small thing.  In other words, it's time for Specter to earn that Judiciary Committee chairmanship and to return the favor to the White House for backing him over Pat Toomey in the 2004 PA Senate primary.