January 31, 2006
Senator Olympia Snowe voted Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006 to confirm Judge Samuel Alito Jr. as a United States Supreme Court Justice. She was one of the last Senators to cast a vote, and she did not announce her decision until just before her vote was cast.
Ever since George Bush nominated Judge Alito to fill Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court, I have come out strongly and repeatedly against the confirmation of Judge Alito. I see him as a real threat to reproductive rights, civil rights, and the balance of powers in our three branches of government, among other things.
Curiously, this vote was not Snowe's normal pattern, which is to vote the right way when it doesn't count, and the wrong way when it does. In this case, however, she COULD have voted the right way because Judge Alito's confirmation was already a sure thing. The fact that she did NOT vote the right way on such a critical issue did two things.
First, since Judge Alito at one point in his career had developed a detailed plan for dismantling Roe v. Wade, Snowe's vote destroyed all the credibility she had with women's groups and pro-choice groups who had been supporting her for years, counting on her to guard their (our) rights at every opportunity.
And second, Snowe's vote for Judge Alito cast her as a supporter of the dangerous "unitary executive" concept of expanded or even unlimited presidential powers, which Judge Alito's record shows he favors.
By deciding to be a loyal Republican, Senator Snowe gave her stamp of approval not only to a dramatic shift in the balance on the Supreme Court, but also to a dramatic shift in the balance of powers among the three branches of government.
We sent this press release out as soon as we learned how Olympia Snowe voted:
Press Release - Remarks of Jean Hay Bright upon learning of Senator Olympia Snowe's vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court
January 31, 2006
I'm disappointed at Senator Snowe's vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. I thought her long-standing support for Roe v. Wade would have compelled her to vote against his nomination, even though that vote would not have made a difference in the outcome. I thought she valued women's rights more than she valued being viewed as a loyal Republican.
With Judge Alito's confirmation, we are now facing the real possibility of Roe being dismantled. But we are also looking at a drastic shift in not only the balance on the Supreme Court, but in the balance of powers among the three branches of government.