I really think that the Senate should consider Judge Alito's whole record, and the White House should vigorously defend his positions, which are shared by most conservatives. This is the battle conservatives want to fight. We want to convince our fellow Americans that the principles espoused by Judge Alito are right and worthy of their support.

Although Judge Alito's conservatism has not been particularly evident in his legal rulings, it was abundantly clear in his job application 20 years ago.

"I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values," he wrote.

"In the field of law, I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate," he added.

The document also provides the clearest picture to date of Mr. Alito's intellectual development as a conservative.

"When I first became interested in government and politics during the 1960s, the greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley Jr., the National Review, and Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign," he said. "In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment."

Unfortunately some Republicans are shying away from the discussion and attempting to avoid confrontation.

A leading Republican involved in the nomination process insisted that this does not prove Judge Alito, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, will overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion a constitutional right.

"No, it proves no such thing," said the Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "In fact, if you look at some of the quotes of his former law clerks, they don't believe that he'll overturn Roe v. Wade."

In contrast to the sentiment underlying that equivocation, I believe that the majority of Americans can be convinced that the states should be allowed to handle the abortion issue without federal intervention. I believe that conservatives can win this fight head-on, and that we'll never have a better opportunity to pick it. Rather than trying to obfuscate and dismiss Judge Alito's beliefs, the Republican party should stand behind them and convince the American people that more power should be returned to the democratic branches of government.



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