When Ward Coffee Co. near Samuel Alito Jr.'s chambers in Newark, N.J., named a designer espresso "Judge Alito's Bold Justice Blend," his law clerk joked that the "bold" referred to both the coffee and the judge.
Five years later, the blend of Java, Celebes and New Guinea beans remains a best seller. But will the Senate and the American public buy the brand of bold conservativism Alito displayed in 300 majority opinions and dissents in his 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals?
A quick examination of those opinions leaves no doubt that the 55-year-old judge President Bush nominated on Monday to replace centrist Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has a record to satisfy Bush's constituents on the right. On abortion, employee and criminal defendant rights, First Amendment and business issues, Alito has landed, consistently, on the conservative side.
At the same time, his Ivy League credentials, his reputation for brilliance and an ability to spend 25 years in public life without an apparent blemish seem to make him a compelling candidate.