"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito Filibuster Plans

AP reports that two senators from the Group of Fourteen that agreed on a compromise to ensure that Bush judicial nominations would not be filibustered, have decided to oppose any attempt to filibuster the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court. After meeting with Judge Alito, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) said that they would vote against a filibuster. They took their case to other members of the Group of Fourteen at a meeting Thursday.

Democrats urged Republicans to hold off on making a decision whether to support a potential filibuster, according to AP: "But the group's Democrats were urging them to withhold judgment, saying Alito has been the nominee only since Monday."

Another member of the group, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), said that the likely Senate opponents of the Alito nomination have yet to discuss filibuster plans openly and he wished that the other side would keep quiet about it also.

AP notes that the defection of even two members of the group "would virtually ensure that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., would win a filibuster showdown."

Alito worked on gaining support from Senate Democrats yesterday, as AP reports:

Nelson said Alito had assured him "that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda, that he is not bringing a hammer and chisel to hammer away and chisel away on existing law."

[Illinois Democrat senator Dick] Durbin said the judge told him he saw a right to privacy in the Constitution, one of the building blocks of the court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.

Alito said that when it came to his dissent on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses, that "he spent more time worrying over it and working on that dissent than any he had written as a judge," Durbin recounted.

As with Chief Justice Roberts, the strategy for Alito appears to be for his side to emphasize every potential ambiguity in his record, to make him more palatable to Democrats. The opposition's search for a naked dead woman in his bedroom closet will continue, of course.

8 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"AP notes that the defection of even two members of the group "would virtually ensure that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., would win a filibuster showdown.""

I wonder if that's true. I've read a fairly convincing case that Frist may not have even a slim chance of passing the nuclear option. The argument was this:

1) there were a lot of Republicans who weren't wild about the nuclear option in the first place but that Frist might have been able to strong arm
2) Since Reid closed the senate while Frist stood by and gaped like a goldfish Frist's clout and power in the senat is reduced substantially
3) Republicans can read the polls and know they are looking at a brutal 2006 election in which they may lose either or both chambers of congress
4) Since they may now may be looking at immenent minority status they have a strong disincentive to meddle with the filibuster
5) Republicans shot their "every nominee deserves an up or down vote" argument when they torpedoed Miers.

Offered up for consideration. My guess is that if they really pushed as hard as possible they might e able to get the nuclear option through but that they'd see even more independents desert them.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

T ... are you suggesting that it would be to the Dems advantage to force a filibuster showdown which they will likely lose?

Tlaloc said...

"T ... are you suggesting that it would be to the Dems advantage to force a filibuster showdown which they will likely lose?"

Are you asking what I think they should do or what might politically be to their advantage? Personally I think both sides should leave the filibuster alone because it's a helpful brake against the tyranny of the majority and that protects everyone.

But if the question is political gamesmanship then yes forcing a showdown might very well benefit democrats more than republicans. Especially if you consider the argument that the filibuster helps the republican coalition maintin itself. Consider if republicans actually had to vote on every socially conservative bill that came up. They'd either alienate their base or the middle they have to have to win elections.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Are you asking what I think they should do or what might politically be to their advantage?

Politically ...

My gut reaction was that the defection was a negative for the Reps, but the AP piece made me think otherwise.

I would prefer a confirmation w/o the so-called nuclear option. Regardless of the legality of going nuclear, the fallout (negative MSM publicity) would likely cost a few seats.

On the flip side, Dems who are not shoe-ins in '06 would have a hard time telling their constituents why the chose to filibuster Alito.

Tlaloc said...

"On the flip side, Dems who are not shoe-ins in '06 would have a hard time telling their constituents why the chose to filibuster Alito."

Not necessarily. From the polls I've seen (and for what polls are worth) the public while mostly agreeing with the idea that candidates should be voted on also agree that judicial philosophy is a valid criteria as well as qualifications. That being the case I think a lot of dems could make a fairly believable case that the republicans sacrificed the "up or down vote" argument with miers and that Alito's misogyny makes him unsuitable for the bench.

(just to be clear I'm not saying Alito is a misogynist, although I have my suspicions after his dissent on Casey, but that the dem in question could make the case)

connie deady said...

The opposition's search for a naked dead woman in his bedroom closet will continue, of course.

I'm afraid that all they are going to find is a picture of Phillies HOF third baseman Mike Schmidt in his judge's chambers.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yeah, and a Joe Carter dartboard.

connie deady said...

Ouch Tom, you would mention that name.

As an aside on the real issue, I don't think the democrats are going to put much real capital into fighting Alito.

I think they will play to their base by asking tough questions like with Roberts and appearing to challenge it, but they can't win, and I don't think it wins them any votes. It's just base pandering.

I think they will go heavy after the war in Iraq and the lies and misinformation that led to the war as a bigger political target.

At least I hope they are smart enough to do that.