Bush acted quickly to find a replacement nominee for the lifetime appointment on the highest US court after loyalist Harriet Miers withdrew from consideration on Thursday under fierce attack from conservatives within Bush's Republican Party who questioned her credentials.

Bush, appearing with Alito in the White House on Monday, listed the judge's lengthy resume and called Alito a "thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion".

The president said: "I'm confident that the United States Senate will be impressed by Judge Alito's distinguished record, his measured judicial temperament, and his tremendous personal integrity."

Difficult timetable

 

Bush called on the Senate to act promptly and vote on him by the end of the year, a timetable that could prove difficult.

 

Alito (R) has a reputation for a
strong intellect and conservatism

Alito, 55, is considered a conservative in the mould of Justice Antonin Scalia.

 

Alito is sometimes given the nickname Scalito - a comparison to Scalia, who shares his Italian heritage as well as his reputation for conservatism and a strong intellect. He is a judge on the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

 

The choice, which would replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, is bound to trigger a fight from Senate Democrats who want to see O'Connor replaced by a moderate justice like her.

Disappointment

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said that he was disappointed with the pick and that the Senate, which must confirm the pick, would have to determine whether Alito was "too radical for the American people".

Bush's candidate Miers withdrew
under attack from conservatives

"I look forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers," Reid said.

Bush is seeking to rebound from one of the toughest weeks of his presidency.

First Miers withdrew, then Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the investigation into who leaked a CIA agent's name in 2003.

Bush is looking for a fresh start, and aides are hoping the new Supreme Court nominee would help provide him with one.

 

He is also focusing on making progress in the Iraq war and trying to cut federal spending that has ballooned under his presidency.