Friday, January 27, 2006

State of Play 

Hit those phone lines:
U.S. Senate Republican leaders have enough support to end debate on Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. and confirm him next week as some Democrats stage a last-ditch filibuster to try to derail his confirmation.

An agreement yesterday to schedule the final roll call for Jan. 31 came as Democrats led by Massachusetts Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry forced leaders to schedule a separate vote a day earlier to stop debate on Alito's nomination to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Democrats acknowledged that the filibuster was doomed to fail.

``Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support the filibuster here,'' Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters today in Washington [And what is your job again, Mr. Reid? -- S.] . . . .

Reid said today he would vote against ending the filibuster. Using the parliamentary tactic is ``an opportunity for people to express their opinions as to what a bad choice'' Alito was to replace O'Connor, Reid said.

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who had previously said a filibuster against Alito wouldn't be justified, today said in a statement she would vote against shutting off debate.

Delaware Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr., who opposes Alito's confirmation, told CBS he wouldn't support the effort because ``I see no reasonable prospect that a filibuster could work.''

Another Alito opponent, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, had not decided whether to support the filibuster, spokesman Israel Klein said in an e-mailed message . . . .

The three Democrats who endorsed Alito's confirmation -- Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- represent Republican-leaning ``red states'' President George W. Bush carried.

Johnson, who won re-election in 2002 by 524 votes, and Byrd announced their endorsements yesterday. Byrd's floor speech came just days after West Virginia businessman John Raese announced plans to challenge the veteran senator in November.

North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, another Democrat seeking re-election this year from a state Bush won, signaled today he was likely to vote for Alito. After meeting with the nominee for a second time, Conrad told reporters, ``I feel more favorably disposed toward him'' . . . .

In addition to the three Democrats who support Alito's confirmation, Democrats Landrieu, Pryor, Biden, Conrad and Ken Salazar of Colorado and say they oppose using a filibuster to block a Senate vote. With those eight, Republicans have the votes to stop any filibuster.
UPDATE (via our august colleague Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla): In case you were wondering why Dianne Feinstein suddenly got religion . . . .
Gold star mother Cindy Sheehan has decided to run against California Senator Diane Feinstein if Feinstein does not filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito . . . . “I’m appalled that Diane Feinstein wouldn’t recognize how dangerous Alito’s nomination is to upholding the values of our constitution and restricting the usurpation of presidential powers, for which I’ve already paid the ultimate price,” Sheehan said.

| | Technorati Links | to Del.icio.us