Two S.D. senators vote Alito to Supreme Court

Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson

South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune both voted to confirm Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Jan. 31, making him the nation’s 110th Supreme Court justice.

The Senate voted, 58-42, in favor of Alito, who succeeded retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Johnson was one of just four Democrats to vote for Alito in the vote last week.

All other Democrats voted against Alito’s confirmation.

“Alito’s approval by the U.S. Senate today allows this chamber to move past this divisive period and on to other issues, such as blanching the budget, providing health care and quality education, enhancing job creation, and firming up our national defense,” Johnson said in a Jan. 31 news release.

Despite voting in favor of Alito, Johnson did point out that Alito wouldn’t have been his first choice to replace O’Connor, noting that, “Alito’s long record raises concerns across a broad range of areas.”

Thune also voted for Alito last week.

“Shortly after his nomination, I had the opportunity to meet with Judge Alito,” said Thune. “I was impressed by his intellect, his thoughtful demeanor and his commitment to applying the laws fairly to everyone.”

Sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, Alito was expected to join Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia to form a right-wing alliance that would overturn liberal rulings on church-and-state questions, property rights and several other issues.

In his first day on the job, Alito didn’t side with Roberts, Thomas and Scalia, though.

Roberts, Scalia and Thomas supported lifting an execution stay issued by a Missouri appeals court. Alito voted with five other justices against Missouri’s late-night request to execute inmate Michael Taylor.

A 1985 job application states that Alito said the Constitution does not protect the right to have an abortion. He associated himself with the conservative movements of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Many legal analysts say that Alito’s 15-year tenure as a New Jersey-based appellate court judge indicates that he is much more conservative than O’Connor, who was the moderate swing vote.

She was well noted as being the pivotal vote in a closely divided court.

Alito, 55, previously served as an attorney with the Department of Justice and as a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where he served with distinction for 15 years.