(NewsNation) — Finding himself at the center of what could be the greatest scandal in Supreme Court history, Justice Samuel Alito has a career and reputation that extend far beyond authoring the controversial leaked opinion draft on Roe v. Wade.
Authorities are still investigating how Alito’s draft opinion, which calls the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade “egregiously wrong,” landed in the hands of Politico, but the 72-year-old conservative judge has had a history of controversy around abortion.
Alito was questioned by Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter on the issue of Roe v. Wade at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2006. Specter raised concerns about Alito’s stance on Roe v. Wade he held while working as a lawyer, in which he believed the constitution did not provide a right to an abortion.
At the time, Specter pressed Alito on whether or not his past views would prevent him from approaching Roe v. Wade “with an open mind” as a Supreme Court justice.
“Absolutely, senator,” Alito replied. “That was a statement that I made at a prior period of time when I was performing a different role, and as I said yesterday, when someone becomes a judge, you really have to put aside the things that you did as a lawyer at prior points in your legal career and think about legal issues the way a judge thinks about legal issues.”
Alito was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006 by President George W. Bush, he was confirmed in a 58-42 Senate vote.
Alito was the first justice appointed by Bush, he replaced the court’s first female justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
His nomination was considered a major win for conservatives at the time but he was not Bush’s first choice for the role. Harriet Miers, his first choice, withdrew from consideration amidst uproar from conservatives she was opposed to abortion strongly enough.
Alito has built a reputation as a steadfast conservative on abortion, gun rights, LGTBQ rights and a host of other Republican platforms.
Judicial scholars describe his philosophy as “originalist” and “textualist.” He interprets the constitution as he believes its framers would have and he takes the literal meaning of texts and legal expressions.