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UNC Professor To Testify At Alito Hearings

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — On Thursday, one of the Triangle's own will become part of the history of the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. The UNC professor was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

When Alito finishes testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, next up is a panel of legal experts.

"I suspect it'll be certainly interesting," said Professor Mike Gerhardt of the UNC School of Law. "It could be intense."

As a Constitutional law professor, Gerhardt will be among them. His role isn't to decide whether Alito is right for the job, but to explore the implications if Alito gets it.

"I would probably note that it is entirely possible that he would perhaps weaken Roe vs. Wade and might actually vote against Roe vs. Wade, but it's unlikely he would be the decisive vote," said Gerhardt.

Gerhardt said what is probably most significant is the ideological shift the court would take with Alito's confirmation.

"Judge Alito is a different kind of judge than Sandra Day O'Connor has been," he said.

O'Connor has often served as the ninth and deciding vote.

"It makes these hearings more intense than we had for Chief Justice [John] Roberts," said Gerhardt.

Gerhardt said Alito's chances of confirmation are good. All he needs is 51 Senate votes -- as long as he can avoid a challenge by Senate Democrats and rejection from even some Republicans.

Gerhardt will be part of what some critics are calling a broken system. His hope, as much as carving a new Supreme Court, is restoring faith in the process to get there.

"We can have a civil dialogue -- perhaps a vigorous dialogue, but nevertheless a civil one -- about Judge Alito's judicial philosophy and about what we would want to see for the future of the Supreme Court," he said.

This isn't Gerhardt's first time in the national spotlight. He was also called by both political parties to testify at former President Clinton's impeachment hearings.


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