Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.), while stopping short of endorsing Samuel Alito, came awfully close to doing so in his statement introducing Alito to the committee.
While it is still too soon to discern if the liberal Lautenberg will vote for Alito on the Senate floor, it would be surprising for him to vote against a man he praised highly today.
"Judge Alito’s accomplishments in life are the embodiment of the American Dream. I am honored to introduce him to the committee," Lautenberg said. "Judge Alito is a young man. If the Senate confirms him for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, he could serve for three decades — or even longer, especially judging from my own age."
Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) asked Lautenberg if he had taken a position on Alito’s confirmation.
"We’ll let the record speaks for itself," Lautenberg replied.
It should be remembered that Lautenberg spoke highly of Alito in 1990 when he was awaiting confirmation for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Following Lautenberg was former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, a moderate Republican, who offered her endorsement for his confirmation. Whitman said Alito possessed "intellect and humility," and while she said the two might not agree on everything, she was confident Alito does not an ideological agenda.