The Note: Membership Has Its Privileges, Part III

David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times has a wrap on Wednesday's Democratic reaction to the Alito nomination, which ranged from Sen. Ben Nelson's cautious optimism to Sen. Pat Leahy's "sharply critical" words about the nominee. LINK

Alito: politics:

From ABC News polling director Gary Langer on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll: "Forty-nine percent say the U.S. Senate should confirm Samuel Alito, far more than oppose him, but lower than the initial support for newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts."

"Alito may be feeling a spillover effect from George W. Bush's popularity problems and the derailed nomination of Harriet Miers. Still, just 29 percent oppose Alito's nomination, with 22 percent waiting to hear more."

"In another sign of his comparatively soft start, 44 percent of Americans see Alito as "about right" ideologically, 14 points fewer than said the same of Roberts shortly after his initial nomination as an associate justice. More instead are withholding judgment on Alito."

The Los Angeles Times Alito bio piece follows yesterday's Boston Globe reporting on his Princeton-days views on the "boundaries of privacy." LINK

A companion piece examines the report by the student conference, written by Alito, in further detail:

"'The conference believes that no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden. Of course, acts of a coercive nature, acts involving minors and acts which offend public decency should still be banned. Discrimination against homosexuals in hiring should be forbidden.'"

It is not clear that young Alito endorsed each of the recommendations, but his report says in its first sentence that the student conference 'agrees unanimously' that privacy is a 'value of fundamental importance.'" LINK

The Washington Post's Goldstein and Becker report that Alito's record on gender bias, sexual harassment, age discrimination, disability rights, and voting rights is emerging as a "significant cleavage point" between his supporters on the right and his detractors on the left. LINK

Deb Orin writes in her New York Post column that Democrats have developed "cold feet" about making abortion the focus of a potential fight against Judge Alito. LINK

Paul Kane reports in Roll Call that the conservative group Progress for America will expand its ad campaign today to include Nebraska and Arkansas, states represented by Democratic senators Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), all of whom supported Roberts and have not yet said where they stand on Alito.

Peter Savodnik reports in The Hill that Republican Nebraska Senate candidate Don Stenberg warned that Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) vote on Alito will be an election issue. LINK

Kathy Kiely of the Nation's Newspaper looks at whether DeWine and Graham will be the first to defect from the Gang of 14. Fellow Gang member McCain acknowledged that DeWine's tough re-election race raises the stakes for him. "Mike DeWine is in a very tough political situation. We all know that." LINK

It's not the Miers/Warren kerfuffle, but Judge Alito is raising eyebrows after he told Sen. Dick Durbin one of his four favorite Supreme Court justices is liberal icon William J. Brennan, reports Todd Purdum in the New York Times. LINK

Per Bloomberg News, U.S. business groups, already delighted by John Roberts, anticipate getting another ally in Alito. LINK

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