Bush nominates Abramoff prosocuter to federal judgeship

According to a NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/politi cs/27judge.html) President Bush, in yet another example of the Republican party's dirty tricks, has nominated the chief prosecutor on the Jack Abramoff case to a federal judgeship. Democratics are understandably up in arms and demanding a special prosecutor to be appointed; Republicans aren't at all keen on the idea.

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Bull point for the filibuster

If the Dems think Frist has 60 votes for cloture (and, please God, there are some Dems who can actually count votes!), then that's all the more reason to try a filibuster.

Because, if so, the nuclear option is moot this time. And the only risk for Dems is failure. And, let's face it, that's not a state of affairs they're unused to!

Just the sheer relief among the base that Congressional Dems have taken the fight to the GOP will make it worthwhile.

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Even The DLC Opposes Alito

Believe it or not, I actually understand the thinking of Democrats who fear being attacked by the GOP for opposing Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito. It doesn't matter how radical Alito is in reality. Republicans will claim that the only people opposing Alito are moonbat lunatic Bush-haters. Of course, I understand this thinking to be small-minded cowardice, but I understand it none the less.

So let's get a few things straight here. Sure, The Washington Post editorial board has come out for Alito's confirmation, but that's about it. The New York Times is opposed, as is the not-so-liberal New Republic. Even 'Gang of 14' member Joe Lieberman has refused to rule out a filibuster.

My point is not that any Democrats should be taking marching orders from the traditional media or the DLC. Rather, with the DLC officially in opposition, even the most conservative of Democrats have the political cover they need to vigorously oppose Alito's confirmation. The DLC's Ed Kilgore echos his organization's position at his New Donkey blog.

The big point is that given a chance to nominate anybody he wanted to the Supreme Court, George W. Bush chose a lifelong movement conservative whose judicial philosophy will tilt the Court to the Right for many years, and will directly threaten the erosion or reversal of constitutional protections that really matter to the American people, beginning with the reproductive rights of women. And Bush did so as a blatant pander to the conservative activists who brought down Harriet Miers, and whom he now needs to defend his wretched record.

Armando already pointed out something important Kilgore had written about the confident support Alito has won from anti-choice activists. If any single factor has the potential to seriously derail Alito's momentum, that's it. But from a larger perspective, Alito's hostility to privacy rights is just one piece of a much larger, quite disturbing picture of his brand of rightist judicial activism.

This is a moment of unity for the Democratic Party. I hope we're able to capitalize on it. There's quite simply no reason for any elected Democrat not to oppose the confirmation of Alito.

Durbin Says Filibuster on Alito Still Possible

This is clearly a very close whip count:U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday he will vote against Judge Sam Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. And he said so many other senators intensely oppose Alito that they may have enough votes to sustain a filibuster against the conservative jurist.(...)

As the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, it's Durbin's job to count votes for and against Alito. He said he won't know until Tuesday if there are enough strong opponents to filibuster Alito's nomination.

"A week ago, I would have told you it's not likely to happen," Durbin said. "As of [Wednesday], I just can't rule it out. I was surprised by the intensity of feeling of some of my colleagues. It's a matter of counting. We have 45 Democrats, counting [Vermont independent] Jim Jeffords, on our side. We could sustain a filibuster if 41 senators ... are willing to stand and fight.

"We're asking senators where they stand. When it reaches a critical moment when five senators have said they oppose a filibuster, it's off the table. It's not going to happen. But if it doesn't reach that moment, then we'll sit down and have that conversation."

When I was down in DC, I heard some people optimistically argue that Republicans would not try and use the nuclear option if Democrats filibustered Alito, simply because going down that path would be extremely poor timing around the SOTU, the start of the legislative session, and the start of an election year. I have no idea if that is a likely scenario, as I also do not know if Democrats will actually be able to round up the votes on a filibuster. Clearly, however, the situation is extremely close, and the next reporter who writes or says that Alito is "likely" to be confirmed is either not paying attention, or needs to come clean about their connections to the Republican Noise Machine.

Alito's Confirmation: It's Not Over

So many people have been saying that, since Alito's confirmation hearings are over and he survived it without throwing a tantrum or a water glass, it's a done deal. It's not. In order to win his seat on the Supreme Court, he still has to win the votes of a majority of the US Senate. Now, this is all completely obvious. But reading some of the defeatism out there, you'd think that he already has.

At The Nation, Bruce Shapiro explains why it is so important that Democrats do not give up fighting against the Alito confirmation. Essentially, there is no reason that it shouldn't be clear that Alito's positions are those of a judicial extremist.

...This is the first confirmation to transpire in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis--with the balance of the Supreme Court itself part of that crisis, along with the NSA domestic spying scandal, the confrontation between President and Congress over torture, and the CIA leak investigation.

That constitutional crisis is why the politics of Alito's confirmation do not end with this week's hearing. The judge himself made that certain. Over the last several days I have described Alito's clear indications in his testimony that on sexual privacy, the power of the executive, even the authority of Congress, he appears at odds even with the conservative mainstream.

Likewise, Steve Gilliard makes an incredible case for continuing the fight. I wholeheartedly recommend reading the entire post, but here's what I consider the operative section.

Bork wasn't beat in the committee, but by ads after the fact. The pressure to defeat him grew externally.

Politicians are like any other person seeking public favor, they respond to their voters.

So the next act in this drama is to make a stink, call your elected officials, your Senators and ask them point blank about Friday's Times editorial, the one which claims Alito will vote to overturn Roe, and then ask them if they are going to do anything to stop him.

Now, personally, this moaning to the media is counterintuative, after all, why piss people off by claiming no fight. Not even DC Dems are that clueless. And of course, everyone expects them to fold. So why announce it so early, when you know the GOP is growing more unpopular by the day.

But regardless of a genuine collapse or gamesmanship, there has to be a sustained public outcry, win or lose. There has to be pressure put on the Dems to do whatever it takes to oppose him, and that starts with you calling your Senator.

With a Democrat like Diane Feinstein openly saying that she does "not see a likelihood of a filibuster," it makes our job that much harder. But it also makes our job that much more important as well. We need to make it clear that confirmation for Alito is not acceptable to moderate Americans. Not only do we need to convince the Democrats, but also shaky Republicans who need to win Democratic votes. So let's get to work. Stopping Alito is something we should now throw our full support behind. And despite what you may have heard, it's not yet out of the question.


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