Roberts: Reid says no, but he'll be confirmed anyway

The Senate minority leader says that he'll vote against the nominee but won't support a filibuster.

Published September 20, 2005 8:40PM (EDT)

A lot of people oppose the confirmation of John G. Roberts -- the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, the House members in the Congressional Black Caucus and People for the American Way -- but they don't get to vote. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid does, and he said today that he's voting no.

"I have reluctantly concluded that this nominee has not satisfied the high burden that would justify my voting for his confirmation based on the current record," he said today on the Senate floor.

That's the good news for progressives hoping that the Democrats will make a firm stand against Roberts' confirmation. The bad news? Reid said that he would not support any "extraordinary procedural tactics" -- read, "filibuster" -- "to block the nomination." The rest of the bad news: Such efforts are almost certainly doomed to failure, anyway. As the Associated Press reports, two other Democrats, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Max Baucus of Montana, suggested today that they're inclined to back Roberts. Add Reid and the 55 Senate Republicans, and you've got 58 of the 60 votes the GOP would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster. As soon as two more Democrats fall in line behind the president's nominee -- well, hello, Sen. Lieberman! -- you can go ahead and start calling Roberts "Chief."

By Tim Grieve

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

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