On the eve of this week’s confirmation hearings, Senator Schumer warned that if Judge Alito refuses to answer questions on issues that “Democrats deem vital,” the chance of a Democratic filibuster will increase. Senator Feinstein echoed this thought, saying that she most likely will filibuster against Alito if she concludes that he’ll vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Fortunately, neither Schumer nor Feinstein has the power to sustain a filibuster against Alito. That power rests with the “gang” of 14 Senators. In fact, nearly all of them, including a majority of the seven Republican gang members, would have to support a filibuster in order to avoid the nuclear option.
I doubt that Senator McCain, who aspires to be the next Republican presidential nominee, will support a filibuster. Senator Graham has said he will vote for the nuclear option if the Democrats filibuster Alito over the abortion issue. Senator DeWine, facing a difficult race in Ohio this year, can’t afford to support a filibuster.
Just those three votes would give Majority Leader Frist the 51 he needs to pull off the nuclear option. Indeed, Frist only needs 50 votes, but 51 protects against a defection by unpredictable non-gang member Arlen Specter.
Schumer’s views, therefore, are irrelevant.
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