[JURIST] Senate Democrats are calling for confirmation hearings for US Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito [official profile; JURIST news archive] to be held in 2006. According to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, "There's no way you can do an honest hearing by the end of December, or a fair hearing." Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not join Leahy in his statement, nor has he committed to President Bush's goal to confirm a nominee by the end of the year. Liberals disapproving of Alito's record on issues such as abortion and the death penalty have threatened to filibuster [JURIST report] the nomination and deny him a yes-or-no vote by the Senate, but Republicans have responded by threatening to get rid of the filibuster for nominations to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. Republicans currently hold 55 seats in the Senate, more than the simple majority needed for confirmation, but less than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. AP has more.