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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Senate Confirms Alito

WASHINGTON -- A sharply divided U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, backing a second conservative nominated by President George W. Bush in his effort to move the nation's highest court to the right.

The largely party-line vote was 58-42 to replace the more moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with Alito, a federal appeals judge since 1990, and came four months after the Senate approved Bush's first Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, as U.S. chief justice.

Alito is expected to align himself with the court's solidly conservative bloc and could affect the outcome of votes on key social issues such as abortion and civil rights. He arranged to watch the Senate vote at the White House and was to be sworn in at the Supreme Court later in the day. He was expected to attend Bush's State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night with fellow justices.

O'Connor's seat has long been viewed as pivotal since for years she has been the swing vote in a series of 5-4 decisions on social issues. Roberts replaced a fellow conservative, the late William Rehnquist, so he did not change the balance on the court.

Democratic critics had voiced fear that Alito would embrace an ideological agenda, but backers noted that he promised to administer justice for all and received the American Bar Association's top rating.