The 55-year-old Alito was nominated to the 3rd Circuit by President George H.W. Bush. Prior to his appointment, Alito served from 1987-1990 as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1985-1987, and as Assistant to the Solicitor General from 1981-1985.
Alito was born in 1950 in Trenton NJ. He attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge Leonard I. Garth on the Third Circuit.
Court observers feel Alito was a close second to Harriet Miers among President Bush's choices to replace Justice O'Connor.
Miers withdrew her nomination last week after coming under attack by conservatives within the Republican Party.
Considered a true conservative jurist on issues like abortion and school prayer, Alito is often referred to as "Scalito" by lawyers, a reference to the conservative opinions of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
On abortion: Alito was the lone dissenter in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that required women seeking abortions to inform their husbands. In his opinion, Alito urged his fellow judges to uphold restrictions on abortion which were subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court.
On separation of church and state: Alito wrote a majority opinion in the case of ACLU v. Schundler, holding that a city hall holiday display containing a creche, a menorah, secular symbols of the season, and a banner proclaiming the city's dedication to religious diversity did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.