Alito pledges 'open mind' on abortion, says no president above the law

[JURIST] US Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday told the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] that he would keep an open mind on the issue of abortion and that the president was not above the law in times of war during the first day of questioning in his confirmation hearings. As expected, senators questioned Alito [hearing excerpts] on his views on abortion, executive power and wiretaps [JURIST reports], subjects on which Alito has written and heard cases during his 15 years on the federal bench. Alito said he would approach any abortion case before the Supreme Court without an agenda, and he defended his dissent in the 1991 case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, in which the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down a law requiring spousal notification before an abortion. Alito also said that his writings while in the Reagan administration [JURIST report] reflected a "different role" as an advocate. Sen. Arlen Specter [official website], chair of the Judiciary Committee, questioned Alito on his views of executive power. Alito said the Constitution applied at all times, although he refused to answer questions about the revelation that President Bush had authorized warrantless domestic wiretaps in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. AP has more.

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