WASHINGTON – A Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he believes Samuel Alito (search) will get an up-or-down vote on his Supreme Court bid.
"We should commit," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., minimizing prospects of a Senate filibuster that would prevent final action on President Bush's choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search).
"I think the probability is that will happen," Biden said on ABC's "This Week."
Bush last week selected Alito, a former Reagan administration lawyer who is currently a judge on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after White House counsel Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination amid withering criticism from conservatives.
Alito's confirmation hearings begin in the committee on Jan. 9. Some Democrats have raised the prospect of a filibuster (search) until they get a fuller sense of his views on abortion (search) and other social issues on which O'Connor has been a swing vote.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., another Judiciary Committee member, said he was not hearing his Democratic colleagues discussing the filibuster option.
Kennedy said he had an open mind about Alito's nomination, although he was concerned about the judge's rulings on privacy rights and rights of the disabled.
Alito wrote a 1991 dissent in a case in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. O'Connor was an author of the Supreme Court ruling that found the notification unconstitutional.
"The people that were so enthusiastic about knocking down Miers are so enthusiastic about this nominee. We have to find out why are they so enthusiastic this time and what do they know that we don't know," Kennedy said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of 14 centrists who averted a Senate breakdown over judicial nominees last spring, said most members of the centrist group including himself are "favorably disposed" toward Alito.
The Democrats "are making up their minds and waiting for the hearings which is entirely appropriate, ... but so far I have not seen any significant concern that might lead to the filibuster," McCain said on "FOX News Sunday."
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said he will support Alito based on his conservative philosophy as well as his credentials as a former government lawyer and prosecutor.
"I think he represents the best of judicial prudence, style and qualifications," Hagel said.