41 votes needed for filibuster, 13 in the bag, 22 on the fence: PHONE CALLS NEEDED

More Senate Democrats Joining Filibuster Vote: ...At the start of the day [Friday], only Dick Durbin and Debbie Stabenow supported Kerry and Kennedy. Just before noon, Hillary Clinton's office called to say she supported us. Then Harry Reid came on board, along with Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Ron Wyden, Chris Dodd, and (I think) Chuck Schumer.

TAKE ACTION HERE: http://www.democrats.com/we-can-stop-alito http://democrats.com/alito-48

Filibuster option on Alito divides Senate Democrats
by Maura Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
Saturday, January 28, 2006

Washington -- Democrats lined up Friday for and against a last-ditch effort to block the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, with some opposing the call for a filibuster and others supporting it, even as they acknowledged it is unlikely to succeed.

"Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster," said Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who said he would nonetheless vote against ending debate on President Bush's choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Democrats split on the move. Reid, who had expressed reservations about a filibuster, described his decision to join the effort as a kind of protest vote against Alito, a veteran federal appeals court judge from New Jersey whose confirmation to the Supreme Court is expected Tuesday.

California's two Democratic senators said they will support the filibuster attempt.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Alito's nomination, said she will vote against ending debate Monday, a procedure known as cloture.

"Based on a very long and thoughtful analysis of the record and transcript, which I tried to indicate in my floor statement (Thursday), I have decided I will vote no on cloture," Feinstein said in a statement released Friday by her office.

Sen. Barbara Boxer indicated she, too, is inclined to support a filibuster, the Senate's traditional strategy of unlimited debate to block a bill or nomination.

"There is only one way to send this nominee back to the president and get a mainstream justice, and that is to get 41 votes for a filibuster," Boxer said. "Clearly it's an uphill battle, but if colleagues on both sides of the aisle realize liberty and justice are on the line, we have a chance for a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called for the filibuster, returned to Washington from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to lead the effort. In a speech on the Senate floor, he accused President Bush of trying to make the Supreme Court more ideologically conservative.

"The critical question here is why are we so compelled to accept, in such a rush, a nominee who has so clearly been chosen for political and ideological reasons," said Kerry, who lost the 2004 presidential election to Bush.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan derided the filibuster effort by mocking Kerry's presence at the Davos forum, despite the fact that Republican senators also attended.

"This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland," McClellan said at his daily briefing for reporters. "I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps."

Under rules of the 100-member Senate, it takes 60 votes to end a debate; a filibuster occurs when at least 41 senators decide to block action by refusing to end the debate. While that many Democrats are likely to oppose Alito's confirmation, several of them won't support a filibuster.

At least 53 of the Senate's 55 Republicans plan to vote for Alito, easily giving the nominee the majority he needs.

Democrats are split, however, on the wisdom of pursuing a filibuster. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., long an "undecided" vote on Alito, announced Friday that he will oppose the filibuster. He was joined by Sens. Ken Salazar of Colorado and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

"While I personally cannot support Judge Alito's confirmation on the Supreme Court, there is not a smoking gun in his past that would warrant 'extraordinary circumstances' and subsequently a filibuster against his nomination," Pryor said in a statement.

Chronicle staff writer Carolyn Lochhead contributed to this report.

Page A - 4 URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/28/MNGAIGV0U71.DTL

Informant: John Calvert


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