Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said Thursday he will oppose Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s confirmation, saying he did not believe the conservative judge would be independent of President Bush and the executive branch in his future rulings.

“At a time when the president is seizing unprecedented power, the Supreme Court needs to act as a check and to provide balance,” Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a speech at Georgetown University’s law school. “Based on the hearing and his record, I have no confidence that Judge Alito would provide that check and balance.”