Feinstein: I'll back the filibuster after all

After saying that she didn't see the "gross moral turpitude" required for a filibuster, the California senator says she'll vote against cloture on Monday.

Published January 27, 2006 8:28PM (EST)

John Kerry can claim at least one small victory in his filibuster fight.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said earlier this month that Samuel Alito wasn't guilty of the sort of "gross moral turpitude" that would warrant a filibuster, now says that she'll vote in favor of a filibuster after all. In a statement just released from her office, Feinstein says: "Based on a very long and thoughtful analysis of the record and transcript, which I tried to indicate in my floor statement yesterday, Ive decided that I will vote no on cloture."

Perhaps that's another way of saying that Feinstein has heard from a lot of pro-choice Californians who put her in office because they thought she'd stand up for abortion rights. Or maybe it's a way of saying that Feinstein really does have a spine, but just a rubbery one. It's hard to know how this plays out for her politically: Does she get credit for standing up or scorn for flipping and flopping?

What is clear is that Feinstein's switch doesn't alter the overall math much. Just before Feinstein made her announcement, one more undecided Republican said he'll be voting for Alito on Tuesday morning. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens says he decided to support Alito after coming to the conclusion that the nominee will uphold his "commitment" to "respect" prior court rulings that protect a woman's right to an abortion.

By Tim Grieve

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

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