only 2% of Americans know what Unitary Executive Power theory is, and about the same amount know how relentlessly Alito favors it. He'll be giving Bush carte blanche to do whatever he wants.. it's the same theory that Nixon used when he said "If the president does it, it's not illegal."


By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito appeared certain to win Senate confirmation on Tuesday as President George W. Bush's second successful nominee to the Supreme Court.

Following several days of debate, the Senate was to vote on Alito, who could move the high court to the right. Alito had a commitment from a required simple majority of senators to be approved.

But the vote was certain to be largely along party lines and closer than the 78-22 tally John Roberts, Bush's first high-court nominee, received in September in being approved as U.S. chief justice.

Alito, 55, would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative who often has been the nine-member court's swing vote on abortion, civil rights and other social issues.

Alito was expected to be sworn in before Bush, who promised to put conservatives on the federal bench, gives his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night.

The Senate on Monday soundly defeated a Democratic bid to stop Alito with a procedural hurdle known as a filibuster.

On a vote of 72-25 -- 12 more than the 60 that were needed -- the Senate approved a motion to end debate and move to a confirmation vote.

"I am pleased that a strong, bipartisan majority in the Senate decisively rejected attempts to obstruct and filibuster," Bush said in a statement.

"Judge Alito is extraordinarily well-qualified ... and America is fortunate that this good and humble man is willing to serve," Bush said.

Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who lost the 2004 White House election to Bush, helped lead the failed effort to mount a filibuster against Alito.

Kerry argued that Alito posed a threat to civil rights and abortion rights and would not be an effective check on presidential powers.

Bush nominated Alito after a rebellion within his conservative ranks led to the withdrawal of an earlier high-court candidate, White House counsel Harriet Miers. Critics voiced concern that she lacked the clout and commitment to make the court more conservative.

Conservatives rallied around Alito, who has served since 1990 as a member of the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.