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 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.