Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Alito

Are the Democrats just going to lie down and take it like the men and women they are rather than those we elected them to be? The New York Times Thursday calls them "in need of a spine." I agree. (I said the same thing the other day about the way they were reacting to Karl Rove's comments, trying to one-up him on being in support of wiretaps, practically begging the Repubs to ask Congress to gut FISA and the 4th Amendment and saying they'd be only to happy to comply.)

Back to Alito and the Times, which notes:

[Alito's] elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government -- and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination. ...A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Judge Samuel Alito will soon get his lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito's history of extreme views on abortion and executive powers makes that nothing more than a regrettable political reality.

With the politics favoring President Bush's nominee, the U.S. Senate must send Alito forward with a forceful, respectful and unforgettable set of reminders about his constitutional responsibilities. Senators can underline the message with as many votes as possible against confirmation.

...Learned, honorable and experienced, Alito is still so far out of the mainstream that a Senate filibuster would be fully justified. But the power-drunk Republican threat to set a procedural precedent eliminating such filibusters forever argues for caution.

I'm not afraid of Frist's nuclear option. There is going to be a Republican or two who believes in continuing the time-honored traditions of the Senate more than payback. I think it's worth the risk.

It only takes one courageous democrat to start a filibuster. Maybe we can count on Sen. Dick Durbin. Bloomberg tonight reports:

The Senate's 44 Democrats, after their weekly caucus in Washington, refused to rule out using the parliamentary tactic of a filibuster to block a Senate vote on Alito's confirmation. Such a tactic would only succeed if Democrats mustered 41 votes to defeat a Republican effort to end debate and proceed to a vote. While several Democratic lawmakers have said a filibuster is unlikely, some say the tactic would draw attention to the debate.

``There are many who feel Judge Alito is going to make a profound change on the Supreme Court,'' said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. ``If the American people understood that they would pay closer attention to this debate, contact their senators and perhaps change the outcome.'' Durbin declined to say whether he supports a filibuster, saying only, ``it is in the realm of possibility.'' (my emphasis.)

Here's the basics:

``One senator objecting to a time agreement means the debate continues,'' Durbin said. ``At that point, or at any point'' Republican Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee could move to end debate.

Republicans control the Senate by a 55-44 margin, with one independent who usually votes with the Democrats. They would need 60 votes to end debate and cut off any attempt to filibuster the nomination. A pledge by seven Democrats last year not to use the filibuster to derail Bush's judicial nominees would make it difficult for Democrats to successfully use the strategy.

A number of Democrats, including Pryor, Conrad, California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have said they wouldn't support a filibuster. Nelson and Pryor were among the seven Democrats who signed the agreement not to support filibusters of judicial nominees except under ``extraordinary circumstances.'' In return for that pledge, seven Republicans agreed not to support Frist's proposal to change the rules to bar such filibusters.

There's that spineless gang of 14 again. But that's water under the bridge.

One thing is for certain. Unless there is a continuous push by constitutents to filibuster between now and the vote, the Dems won't do it. So far only Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has jumped ship and said he will vote for Alito.

So, check out Code Pink which has all the contact information and updated info on the positions of the Senators.

[Graphic created exlcusively for TalkLeft by CL.)

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    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#1)
    by Linkmeister on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 11:45:53 PM EST
    Well, I did something. I wrote Reid, Akaka and Inouye today urging them to filibuster. I also wrote Dean urging him to persuade the Senate Democrats that it needed to be done.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#2)
    by DonS on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:03:07 AM EST
    "There's that spineless gang of 14 again. But that's water under the bridge. " You bet its under the bridge. The corruption and scandal of the Republicans since the infamous deal has been a waterfall and Mr. Frist's integrity is foremost among Senators who reek of their own corruption.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#3)
    by Lora on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 06:56:19 AM EST
    Running for office in the possibly faint hope of getting re-elected isn't everything. Having peace of mind, knowing you and your family are free of the taint of vicious scurrilous personal and political attacks can matter far more than running for office again, and quite likely losing if you are in the RNC crosshairs. We need to realize that these "spineless" Democrats have lives and families and want to be able to survive the rest of their lives without the fear and enormous stress of swiftboating. Our next mass demonstration needs to be a march on mainstream media for their spineless collusion with the RNC smear campaign.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#4)
    by soccerdad on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:01:01 AM EST
    Looking for Dems with a spine. yeah right. I'm going to go out and look for unicorns. It will be just as successful.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#5)
    by Lww on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 07:51:47 AM EST
    Remember during the Ginsburg and Breyer confirmations when the republicans were threatening a filabuster? Oh, wait a minute, ACLU Ruthie received 96 out've a hundred votes,Breyer was slammed by the republicans with 87 out've a hundred... For all you people who think Bush is some kind of illegitimate President, Clinton received just 43% of the vote in 1992, hardly a mandate. The lefties just can't stand it when they're powerless.

    LWW, huh?

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#7)
    by Slado on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 08:06:14 AM EST
    LWW is only pointing out the obvious. A fillibuster would be pointless. Do you really think the Dems can keep Alito off the court when they don't control congress, the court or the presidency? Seriously a fillubuster would only hand amunition to Karl Rove and the repubs to bash them over the head with in November. You can moan and groan for a pricipled stand but political suicide will not do them any good. They are playing it safe. They vote no. Make a lot of noise and move on. Recapturing any branch of government is the only way to put people on the court. Not holding up the congress when you can't do it the conventional way. LWW is right. Not that repubs are saintly as they currently make themselves out to be on judges. Feinstein pointed out that they only approved Ginsberg after she was picked from a list of "approved" nominees that Hatch gave Clinton. But then the Repubs controlled Congress and had more muscle. The dems have nothing except a fillibuster and that would blow up in their face.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#8)
    by ras on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 09:56:51 AM EST
    The Dem party is gonna have to split into two: the Left and the Hard Left. TL's - and others' - comments re Alito, wiretapping etc make that clear. The current intra-party disagreements are as large as any between D's and R's in general. The filibuster issue is as good an example of as any. The Left, represented by the party leadership, wants a "convenient" resolution. The Hard Left wants results. Ultimately, this cannot continue. One of them has to stay and the other has to go. We'll see whose party it really is soon enough.

    ras: One of them has to stay and the other has to go. Either that or they can decide that it's in their best interests to stick together.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#10)
    by ras on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 11:16:08 AM EST
    Either that or they can decide that it's in their best interests to stick together. Yes, but only if each side can compromise on particulars rather than principle. The tone of comments from the Hard Left, however, indicates that NSA, Alito, Iraq etc are areas where this is not the case. In continuation of my prev comment, one other thing: if the Dem grassroots really want a filibuster, they'll get one, just as the R grassroots had no truble getting a change in the nominee when they really wanted it. Grassroots pressure will win the day, but only if it's serious. The Dem leadership is posing as being gravely serious in their concerns about Alito, but their actions say that their rehtoric is empty and they don't really mind him that much. That means that if the Hard left is serious, it's up to the grassroots to demand a fb. Understand that I say this as someone who rather likes Alito. I think he's excellent, in fact, and that the charges levelled at him completely crumble into dust on real inspection. I suspect that's why the D leadership isn't really as worried about him as it pretends to be. But I am curious as to whether the Dem grassroots believe the rhetoric. If they do, we'll see a fb (or a split). If not, not.

    ras, neither the left or the more left of the Democratic party has anyplace else to go. Third party options don't appeal to anyone who hopes to get Bush out.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#12)
    by ras on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 12:29:05 PM EST
    punisher, Yes, I understand the difficulty of forming a 3rd party and potentially splitting a vote, but what's the point of supporting a party that works against your strongest beliefs? [The Dem Party, remember, pretty much pledged to support everything Bush has done, and have only talked the other way for a short time, under pressure, even as their actions belie their comments. Examples include taking out Saddam, wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and so much more.] Tough place to be for you. Tho we disagree on many things, I can sure see the rock & hard place you now find yourself between. Long-term, you need a new party (or the "other" Dems do, but nonetheless a split). You will accomplish nothing of substance w/out it. Short-term, it will hurt to get started. Btw, if getting rid of Bush is the goal, as you state ... he's gonna be gone anyway. He will not be running again, so I presume you wish to impeach him right outta office before then. Ain't gonna happen. To dedicate your political energy to a party that you so fundamentally disagree with, for a cause that you gotta know will fail, seems a little off-base.

    Re: Calling All Dems With a Spine to Filibuster Al (none / 0) (#13)
    by Slado on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 03:09:38 PM EST
    ras I would like to tweak your theory if I may. The real setup of this country is left, center and right. The problem with a two party system is both parties can't shade all three positions at once. In my humble opinion the country tends to lean center right or center left and by both parties talking from the extremes we always end up somehwere in the middle. I am center right. Center on the death penalty, abortion and social programs. Right on defense and taxes. Because of the dems rhetoric and policies on a few key issues, mostly taxes and defense I will never vote for them. But if Joe Liberman or John McCain started up the Whigs again and let Bush and Pat Robertson run the Republican party while TL and Pelosi ran the Dems I'd vote for the Whigs. I have a feeling many americans would too. Anyway that's my two cents. Three parties would lead to more consensus but unfortunatley a third party always seems to arise from the fringes not the center...Libertarian, Grenn what have you. Sorry TL didn't mean to highjack thread.

    ras: ...but what's the point of supporting a party that works against your strongest beliefs? The only party that fits that description is GWB.