Kerry to push for Alito filibuster

Frist sets cloture vote for Monday afternoon.

Topics: Supreme Court, John F. Kerry, D-Mass., War Room,

CNN is now confirming what Bob Fertik at Democrats.com reported earlier today: John Kerry is calling on his Democratic colleagues to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has just responded by moving for a cloture vote on Monday afternoon.

Kerry is in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum there, but he has apparently been working the phones, trying to persuade other Democrats to join him. CNN says Ted Kennedy is on board.

It’s not clear how many other Democrats will get behind Kerry, but it’s pretty clear that there aren’t enough to defeat a Republican cloture motion. There are only 44 Democrats in the Senate — 45 if you count independent Jim Jeffords, who says he’ll vote no on the nomination — and it takes 40 votes to keep a filibuster going. Democrats Robert Byrd, Tim Johnson and Ben Nelson have already said they’ll vote for Alito, which would certainly suggest that they won’t vote for a filibuster. Several other Democrats — including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar — have said that their “no” votes on the nomination shouldn’t be construed as “yes” votes for a filibuster. And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid just said on the Senate floor that Frist has given all senators plenty of time to debate the Alito nomination.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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