Time expires for John Kerry

In what may be a metaphor for his efforts on Alito, Kerry is cut off midspeech when the Democrats' floor time expires.

Published January 30, 2006 6:13PM (EST)

Maybe there's a metaphor in here somewhere.

John Kerry was just on the Senate floor, arguing hard for more time to debate the nomination of Samuel Alito. Kerry called this a "pivotal moment" in American history; he reminded anyone who was listening that Alito was George W. Bush's second choice, forced upon him by the right when Harriet Miers wasn't deemed conservative enough; he said that Alito is the favored son of those in the "ideological wing" of the Republican Party, a man who was nominated to the court "in order to satisfy their demands for an ideological orthordoxy."

Kerry then began to make the case that Alito is insensitive and even hostile to the concerns of working Americans. He started in, case by case, laying out the facts from cases, making his arguments, slowly building a sense of outrage. And then Kerry ... ran ... out ... of ... time.

The parties are alternating hours of floor time in the debate on Alito's nomination, and the Democrats' latest turn was set to end at 1 p.m. EST. At precisely that moment, Kerry was interrupted midsentence and told that his time had expired. He asked for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, but Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky who was scheduled to speak next, refused to wait while Kerry finished. "I was expecting to speak at 1," McConnell said, "and because of my own schedule, I need to do that."

Kerry said he'd finish later and left the Senate chamber. McConnell spoke for about 15 minutes, then ran out of things to say. Now the Republicans' time is still running, but there's no one speaking on the floor at all.

By Tim Grieve

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

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John F. Kerry D-mass. Supreme Court