WASHINGTON, February 1 – Senator John Kerry’s attempt to block the confirmation of Justice Alito were unsuccessful. Without any problems Alito became the new Justice on the Supreme Court, replacing Sandra Day O’Connor. The 58-42 vote in favor leaves nothing to chance.
The question now is how his confirmation will change the legal landscape. This year at least a half dozen cases will appear before the court which will very well prove whether Alito follows O’Connor’s line or sets out his own. In the prior composition Justice O’Connor and Justice Kennedy were always the swing votes on many hot issues. Now with O’Connor out of the way and a conservative Justice instead it is most likely that Kennedy is the only remaining swing vote. High on the list of important issues are always the abortion rights and more recently the treatment of terror suspects.
Although it is not likely that the core ruling of Roe vs. Wade will be altered it is possible that many other abortion rulings will swing the other way in light of the new Justice. On Roe vs. Wade the Supreme Court was divided in six against three. Former Chief Justice Rehnquist was on the minority side so his replacement with John Roberts will make no difference. O’Connor was on the majority side so a switch of votes by Alito will still leave a 5-4 score.
The first cases Alito will be working on are those of the treatment of terror suspects. More specific the rules that terror suspects have no right to challenge their detention before court. Because Roberts was already involved in this case in appeal he will not participate in this case which could mean that it ends up in a 4-4 tie.
Only time will tell what will change, let’s hope they decide for the good of the country.