January 26, 2006

Senator Tim Johnson Voting for Alito and Will Fight Filibuster

Johnson to Vote for Alito

WASHINGTON (AP) South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson said Thursday that he will vote for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, making him the second Democrat to support the judge.

``It does appear his legal skills are excellent and he is a person of integrity, and I do believe it can't be said that his legal viewpoint is outside the mainstream of contemporary jurisprudence,'' Johnson told the Associated Press. ``It was somewhat of a close call for me.''

Still, he said the conservative federal appeals court judge would not have been his pick for the Supreme Court, adding that his deliberation over Alito was more difficult than his decision to support Chief Justice John Roberts last fall.

``I am troubled by Judge Alitos apparent views on matters such as executive power, his past opposition to the principle of one person, one vote, and his narrow interpretation of certain civil rights laws,'' Johnson said. ``Even so, I cannot accept an argument that his views are so radical that the Senate is justified in denying his confirmation.''

He said he would fight any effort by Democrats to filibuster Alito's nomination.

Without a filibuster, Alito will be confirmed as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who throughout her years on the high court often has been a key fifth vote on contentious social issues including abortion, affirmative action and the death penalty. Alito already has majority support in the Senate, with more than 50 Republicans already publicly supporting his confirmation.

Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only other Senate Democrat to say he will support Alito. South Dakota's other senator, Republican John Thune, has also said he will support the judge.

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