Alito - Les Jeux Sont Fait
At the end of today's session of Judge Alito's confirmation hearings, the rest of the pieces fell into place, effectively plotting how the rest of the process will unfold.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in the waning minutes of Alito's confirmation hearing that unnamed Democrats will "exercise their rights" to put off next week's scheduled Alito vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
... Democrats say they won't be ready Tuesday to vote on his nomination, since Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has called on party members to hold off making a decision until after a Wednesday meeting.
There can be no mistaking this effort for anything but a baseless, partisan, and utterly aimless stall tactic.
Since Alito assuredly has majority support in the Senate, only a filibuster can block his confirmation. 5 of the 7 Republican G14ers (Graham, DeWine, Snowe, Collins, and Chafee) have publicly stated they don't see the kind of "extraordinary circumstances" they require in order to oblige a Democratic filibuster. And since Senator Frist has made it clear (even recently reiterated) that he's got the Constitutional option at the ready, any filibuster attempt should meet with a filibuster-busting vote of at least 53-47.
This regrettable move is just what I was lamenting on Wednesday - the biggest "win" that Senate Democrats could hope to achieve, given a lack of any actual grounds to oppose the nominee. I'm confident that this delay will be parlayed into a subsequent delay (once they've had a week to concoct some new facet of Alito's background they find "troubling"), which will punt the eventual floor vote past the State of the Union address.
That way, while Alito is still ultimately confirmed, the Democrats don't have to mount a filibuster (and risk losing that tactic for a possible 3rd Bush nominee), yet they're still able to slather a little egg on the President's face as he ascends the annual uberbully pulpit (otherwise reliably a big boost to the approval ratings), suffering the mild embarrassment of a nominee successfully jammed up by the minority.
At this point, the only card left to play is Senator Frist putting strong, highly publicized pressure on the Judiciary Committee to stay in session tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, as long as it takes for them to do whatever they need to get ready to vote. Further, I would hope a little pressure would be brought on Senator Reid to move his Wednesday meeting up a few days. If whatever's on the agenda is so important that it needs to disrupt the agreed-upon and long-awaited confirmation schedule (and has unfolded so suddenly that it couldn't have been foreseen until now), then maybe any concerned Senators ought to forgo some of their long weekend plans for the sake of keeping the business of the U.S. Senate on track.
All in all, this isn't worth getting too worked up over (well, maybe that horse is already out of the barn...) since the end result is that a 2nd superb Justice makes his way onto the Supreme Court. But this groundless delay is still highly irksome and bodes poorly for the tenor of future proceedings.
Not to mention what it does for the American public's view of civility and integrity in politics.
Handcrafted by Flip on January 13, 2006 |
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Tracked on Jan 13, 2006 9:47:14 PM