Sunday, November 06, 2005

Alito filibuster unlikely, says Biden

From Reuters:

A key Democrat said on Sunday that he expects the full Republican-led Senate to vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

But Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said a decision would not be made about such a possible procedural roadblock until more lawmakers meet with President George W. Bush's conservative nominee to the nation's highest court.

"My instinct is we should commit" to an up-or-down vote by the full Senate, said Biden, a member of the Judiciary Committee. "I think the probability is that will happen.

"I think that judgment won't be made... until the bulk of us have had a chance to actually see him and speak to him."

Biden made his remarks on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. And he may be right. The Democrats might ultimately not filibuster the Alito nomination.

But Biden was referring to his "instinct" and to "probability". The Senate Judiciary Committee won't begin its confirmation hearings until January 9, over two months from now, and so there's still a lot of time for Democrats (and those few moderate Republicans who might be uncomfortable with Alito's conservatism) to peruse Alito's record and to make up their minds. As Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois put it on CBS's Face the Nation, after all, "[s]ome of the opinions that [Alito]'s handed down are controversial decisions".

It remains to be seen whether enough senators -- 41, to be exact -- find them (and him) to be too controversial for confirmation. And, beyond that, it remains to be seen what would happen if the Republicans invoked the so-called "nuclear option" in response to a Democratic filibuster.

What is certain is that Alito will be confirmed. What isn't is how difficult his confirmation will be.


Captain's Quarters: "People should find it easy to come to a judgment on Alito's qualifications. Unlike Harriet Miers, he has a long track record of working on constitutional law as well as a solid career as a litigator, first as a prosecutor and later as an appellate attorney. He has spent the last 15 years as a federal jurist and has written plenty of opinions on many cases. This record shows him to have a splendid judicial temperament, excellent commitment to the law, a high level of legal erudition and scholarship, as well as having a more originalist/conservative philosophy of jurisprudence on the bench."

Fair enough, and conservatives have every reason to want to see one of their own confirmed, but the rest of us still have time to make up our minds -- and, before we do, to scrutinize Alito more thoroughly.

See also The Moderate Voice.

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  • The dilemma for each individual senator on a confirmation vote is this. Should I? 1)absolutely vote my own conscience, 2)vote the way a majority of those I was elected to represent would vote, or 3)vote the way a majority of those in my wing of my party will vote. I vote that each senator vote his or her own conscience. Even if I would disagree with a vote, I would rather have them act in good faith, rather than strategically.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 2:31 PM  

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