[JURIST] Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], said Friday that US Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive] has promised that his views on abortion will not be a factor in his rulings. Several documents released in recent weeks have highlighted Alito's opposition to abortion, including a 1985 memo [PDF text] authored by Alito while he served as an assistant to the solicitor general during the Reagan administration. In the memo, Alito advocates a gradual challenge [JURIST report] to the fringes of Roe v. Wade and calls for a policy of "mitigating" the effects of the decision by urging the Supreme Court to allow increased state regulation of abortions. Alito has also come under fire for statements made in a job application [PDF text] for the position in the Attorney General's office, also in 1985, where he wrote that he was proud of helping the government argue [JURIST report] that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." Specter said Friday that Alito had assured him that the nominee's personal opinions are "not a matter to be considered in the deliberation on a constitutional issue of a woman's right to choose." Specter also emphasized, however, that Alito would face vigorous questioning about the abortion issue during confirmations hearings, scheduled to begin Jan. 9 [JURIST report]. AP has more.