More Democrats swing toward Alito; filibuster seems hopeless

If North Dakota's Democratic senators back the nominee, blocking Alito becomes all but impossible.

Published January 27, 2006 4:56PM (EST)

Samuel Alito appears to be picking up votes from more Democrats, which is another way of saying that John Kerry's attempt at a filibuster isn't going to stop the nominee.

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said this morning that he's "leaning" toward a "yes" vote on Samuel Alito. The Wall Street Journal says that Democrats are bracing for the state's other Democratic senator, Byron Dorgan, to join him. If it all comes to pass, that will make five Democrats who will vote in favor of Alito, plus at least three more who say they'll vote against him but won't support a filibuster. Add those eight to the 52 Republicans who have already committed to support Alito, and Bill Frist has the 60 votes he needs for cloture even if he loses all three of the Republicans who haven't announced their intentions yet.

Harry Reid says it's over, and he doesn't sound particularly unhappy about it. "We're going to have a vote Tuesday morning," the Associated Press quotes the Senate minority leader as saying today. "Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster, but it's an opportunity to people to express their opinion on what a bad choice it was to replace Sandra Day O'Connor."

Funny, but we always thought that senators were supposed to do a litle more than "express opinions" when they thought the president was making a "bad choice" about something as important as the Supreme Court. It seems that we were wrong.

By Tim Grieve

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

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Harry Reid John F. Kerry D-mass. Supreme Court