Samuel A. Alito Jr., 55, is a jurist in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia. Nicknamed "Scalito," or "little Scalia," by some lawyers, the federal appeals court judge is a frequent dissenter with a reputation for having one of the sharpest conservative minds in the country.

Educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, Alito was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in 1990. He had worked for the Justice Department in the Reagan administration and served as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey.

In 1991, he was the lone dissenter in a 3rd Circuit decision striking down a Pennsylvania law's requirement that women tell their husbands before having an abortion. Alito also wrote a 1997 ruling that Jersey City officials did not violate the Constitution with a holiday display that included a creche, a menorah and secular symbols of the Christmas season.

Three years ago Alito drew conflict-of-interest accusations after he upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against the Vanguard Group. Alito had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested with the mutual fund company at the time. He denied doing anything improper but recused himself from further involvement in the case.

-- Christopher Lee