January 27, 2006

No Filibuster: Alito Vote to be Held on Tuesday

Carroll Andrew Morse

From the Associated Press, via Breitbart.com...

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito enjoys sufficient bipartisan support to surmount any Senate filibuster attempt by minority Democrats, Senate leaders said Friday.

A final vote making the New Jersey jurist the nation's 110th Supreme Court justice is scheduled for Tuesday, hours before President Bush gives his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation....

"Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Friday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the same thing on Thursday. "A bipartisan majority will vote to confirm Judge Alito as Justice Alito," Frist said.

Alito's supporters already have those commitments, with 53 of the Republicans' 55-member majority and three Democrats; Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, already publicly supporting his confirmation as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., also announced Friday he is "leaning in favor of voting for" the conservative judge. "It is clear to me that a majority of the American people and the people I represent support his confirmation," he said after meeting with Alito in his office.

As of the time of this posting, there is still no official word from Senator Lincoln Chafee as to how he will vote on this matter. Senator Jack Reed has already declared that he will vote against Alito.

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Do you think Chafee will get any sleep at all this weekend?

Nope. He'll be wringing his hands raw, rocking back and forth like Dustin Hoffman's character in Rainman.

Posted by: oz at January 27, 2006 4:10 PM

I saw this at the Corner (Byron York) and thought I'd pass it along. A little humor at a White House briefing:

"Q: Can I also ask you, on Senator Kerry's comments, what is your reaction to the filibuster call by Senator Kerry, on Judge Alito?

MR. McCLELLAN: On his call yesterday? It was a pretty historic day. This was the first time ever that a Senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland. I think even for a Senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps. (Laughter.)"

Posted by: Marc Comtois at January 27, 2006 4:39 PM

Kerry and Kennedy are even looking more pathetic than usual. That takes hard work!

As for Chafee, at this point it basically doesn't matter how he votes, as Alito is going to get in. What matters is how he puts himself on record, and positions himself for the primary and general elections. He either sides with the President and the Republican majority, or he sides with Ted Kennedy and his liberal allies.

I hope Chafee has a bottle of Rolaids nearby, because I imagine it's going to be a very bad weekend for him. If you saw him on C-SPAN presiding over the Senate when Liddy Dole spoke asking for Alito's confirmation, I think you'd know exactly what I mean!

For the sake of self-consistency, I'm still of the opinion that Chafee will vote NO on Alito come Tuesday. The real question is whether he will actually let us know how he plans to vote, before the vote takes place!

Posted by: Will at January 27, 2006 5:17 PM

Predicting how Chafee will vote is almost impossible at times. I too believe Chafee will vote against Alito. (Although I will note Anthony predicted today on this blog that Chafee will vote for Alito, and so he may have inside info). In any case, this must be the worst weekend of his political career. If Chafee did what he thought was right, he would vote against Alito based on all the past statements he has made in the past. If he votes for him, it is just a lame attempt to save his bacon in the primary, but it will do him little good. All the waffling and indecisiveness before this vote will not help him with Republicans even if he does vote for Alito. For the last couple of months all he has done is bad mouth Alito, and it will look blatantly political to vote for him now. Looking political hurts Chafee's image more than anything else.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 27, 2006 5:45 PM

Perhaps Chaffee'll take a cue from his own past actions, and Ted (hiccup) Kennedy, and write-in a vote for "Judge Alioto."

Posted by: Tom W at January 27, 2006 6:05 PM


Sorry, but I would say that the two Ks from MA look pathetic effortlessly.

They are precisely what is wrong with the US Senate.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 28, 2006 12:40 PM

I appreciate your thought that I might have "inside" information, but I'm just making an educated guess based on Chafee's behavior in similar situation.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a member of a union, I don't work for Chafee, I'm not active in any RI Republican or Democratic organization. Other than being a keen observer, offering my commentary and voting, I truly am a bystander in this whole thing. I do have friends who support all candidates: Brown, Chafee, Laffey and Whitehouse, so I end up getting perspectives from all sides. Except for Carl Sheeler. I have yet to meet anyone who is supporting him.

Now I have a question for the pro-Laffey editors of this blog: Can someone explain to me what Laffey means when he says that he is "personally opposed to abortion but is reconciled to the fact that legal abortion is a settled issue"?

If I'm personally opposed to something, I usually want to change it not accept it. Then someone with a straight face tell that if Chafee had said this, the Laffey campaign wouldn't be alleging hypocrisy and political expediency.

Posted by: Anthony at January 28, 2006 9:41 PM

Just for the fun of it, I'll take a stab at it. Wanting to change something, and being in a position to change something, are two different things. Don't interpret what Laffey has said as "accepting" abortion. What he is "accepting" is that the question is out of his hands. Laffey understands that even though he is "pro-life" and opposed to abortion under most circumstances, that as a US Senator, he will have no effective power to affect the fundamental underpinnings of Roe vs. Wade, one way or another at the federal level. For the time being, that has been "settled" by the Supreme Court decision of 1973.

Due to the dynamics of abortion politics, the ball is now in the Judicial branch's court (pardon the pun). As the Supreme Court "found" a Constitutional right to abortion, based on an extra-constitutional interpretation of a "right to privacy," anything short of passing an amendment to the US Constitution, by a vote of the House and Senate, and with the concurrence of 3/4 of the states, will not be in any position to ban it. Practically speaking, there is nothing that can be done directly by the US Senate to reverse it, other than individual Senators using their positions to speak up for a "culture of life" and to support means (within the confines of what the Supreme Court will allow) to discourage the practice.

If over time, Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned by the high court, all that ruling would do is revert abortion back to the state level, where the power rested prior to 1973. I would definitely not expect Laffey to have a "litmus test" (unlike some of our liberal friends at the moment -- and possibly Senator Chafee) when faced with voting for or against a president's Supreme Court nominee. I would expect him to evaluate a nominee based on his/her qualifications, and not how that person might rule in the future about a specific issue.

Posted by: Will at January 29, 2006 12:38 AM

Will, that’s very well put. I see it the same way: Laffey is pro-Life, but understands only the judicial branch (not the legislative one) has the ability to sustain or overturn the Roe vs. Wade ruling.

By stating he is reconciled to the fact that legal abortion is a settled issue, Laffey is reaffirming his opposition to litmus tests. Otherwise, if it is on a Senator’s agenda to influence change on the abortion issue (not “change” the issue, because again, only the judicial branch can do that), then it means the Senator would have to employ the litmus test and vote for a SCOTUS nominee based solely on the nominee’s presumed abortion stance (rather than on his/her judicial merit).

Posted by: Yolanda at January 29, 2006 10:12 AM

What's even worse that what has been written is that chafee stands for nothing.

In this whole alito nomination process, chafee didn't change anyone's opinion, rally anyone to vote either way--he doesn't matter, he is not part of the process. He is on the outside looking in and no one even knows or cares whether he shows up.

I think laffey said it best yeserday--It's sad.

Posted by: Joe L at January 29, 2006 10:25 AM