WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that he will vote against Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he fears the judge would take the court backward.
Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, also voted against now-Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. But Kerry said that Alito goes even further than Roberts in undermining established legal precedents.
A flash point during Alito's confirmation hearings was a 1985 memo he wrote saying that the ''Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" despite the Supreme Court's 1973 Row v. Wade decision.
''I think he will shut the door of court access to the average person in America. . . . I will vote against him because I think he will take the court backwards," Kerry said on ABC's ''This Week."
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote tomorrow on Alito's nomination to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The full Senate will start its final debate the next day.
Most if not all of the Senate's 55 Republicans are expected to support him, which would give him enough votes for confirmation if the 44 Democrats and Independent Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont don't attempt a filibuster.
Kerry also criticized President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, calling it ''a violation of the law." He said he supports calls for a special counsel to investigate the matter.
Kerry attacked White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove for telling GOP activists last week that ''some important Democrats clearly disagree" with the need to monitor terrorism suspects.
''What he's trying to pretend is somehow Democrats don't want to eavesdrop appropriately to protect the country. That's a lie,"Kerry said. ''We're prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer."