Alito seems headed for confirmation

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito won commitments from a majority of senators Tuesday, assuring his eventual confirmation and a likely tilt of the court to the right.

On the same day Alito won a 10-8 party-line approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee, five Republicans announced that they would vote for his confirmation in the full Senate, pushing him over 50 votes in the 100-member chamber.

Fifty Senate Republicans, plus one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have publicly committed to vote for Alito through their representatives, interviews with The Associated Press or news releases.

No Republicans have opposed him and five have yet to declare how they will vote: Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Twenty Democrats are publicly opposing President Bush’s pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, while the other 23 and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont are still publicly undecided or refuse to say how they will vote on Alito’s nomination.

The only way Democrats can stop the conservative judge now is through a filibuster, a maneuver they show little interest in.