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North Dakota Democrats expected to ensure Alito's confirmation

John Byrne
Published: January 27, 2006

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As Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) mounts a longshot bid to filibuster Bush Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, more indications suggest that Democrats will back the nominee to the Supreme Court, despite widespread disaffection in the Democratic caucus.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire, along with today's Washington Post, signaled that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) are unlikely to support a filibuster, and may vote to support Alito.

RAW STORY's own surveys of Democratic senators, along with sources on the Judiciary Committee and Senate Democratic leadership, indicate Alito will be confirmed. While only three Democrats have formally announced their support for Alito, Democrats need only lose five senators to render a filibuster impossible if all 55 Senate Republicans, as expected, support bringing the nomination to the floor for a vote.


Indications suggest that several senators that could vote against Alito -- including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) -- are unlikely to support a filibuster.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reported this morning: "With 2008 White House hopeful Kerry exploring a filibuster, Senate Democrats brace for expected defections of North Dakota's Conrad and Dorgan on Alito vote. Combined with Nelson of Nebraska, Johnson of South Dakota, and Byrd of West Virginia, who announced support for Bush's choice, that would give Republicans 60 votes if their party stays unified. Amid talk of longshot Kerry filibuster try, Republicans will try to rally that number in Monday vote to cut off debate."

Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) says the effort to filibuster is almost certain to fail.

"Having made a count," he said, "I have come to the conclusion it is highly unlikely that a filibuster would succeed."

Kerry outlined his displeasure with Alito in a post Thursday on Daily Kos.

"I voted against Justice Roberts, I feel even more strongly about Judge Alito," the senator penned. "Why? Rather than live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law," he's consistently made it harder for the most disadvantaged Americans to have their day in court. He routinely defers to excessive government power regardless of how extreme or egregious the government's actions are. And, to this date, his only statement on record regarding a woman's right to privacy is that she doesn't have one."

Correction and clarification: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Sen. Nelson (D-FL). Also, the earlier version did not indicate why Democrats needed to lose only five senators to foil a filibuster. The reason is because all 55 Republican senators are almost certain to vote against a filibuster.


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