Democratic Senate Whip Says Things Seem to be Changing After Discussion With Colleagues...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2006, 4:09pm PT  

Regarding my previous very strong suggestion that Democtrats fillibuster the Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel Alito, it looks like things may be changing from the conventional wisdom that he definitely would not be filibustered.

This from the Chicago Sun-Times today:

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.
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He didn't like what he considered Alito's vague, noncommittal answers --- during Senate hearings --- about abortion and presidential power "to eavesdrop on our phone conversations" and "to seize American citizens and to imprison them indefinitely without charge."
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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.

And just to short-circuited the Wingnuts when they (inevitably) trot out their misinformation concerning the Republicans approval of Ruth Bader Ginsberg during the Clinton Era...Unlike that case, Bush did not bother to get Democratic approval for Alito, the way Clinton did with Ginsberg:

Durbin took questions from law students --- many of them members of the conservative Federalist Society who support Alito and who noted his high ratings from the American Bar Association.

"What's the difference between the current situation and the [Ruth Bader] Ginsberg nomination, where, as you know, the Republicans overwhelmingly voted to confirm her, even though they didn't agree with her politically, because they knew she had the qualifications necessary?" second-year law student Jonathan Steitz asked.

"When Bill Clinton was looking to fill that vacancy, he was in dialogue with Orrin Hatch, the Republican leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Durbin said. "He brought him several names that Hatch rejected. He said, 'Don't send those to me --- I can't get 'em through.' And then Bill Clinton came up with the name of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And Hatch said, 'I can support her. The Republicans can support her.' A dramatic difference from where we are today."

Keep those calls, emails and faxes going folks! See comments in the previous item on this for a few phone numbers and website addresses!

Chris Bowers of MyDD.com adds these thoughts:

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.

UPDATE: Here are some toll-free numbers to get through to the Senate: 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. Also, be sure to read comments in this item, for several other phone numbers and links to petition efforts, etc!

UPDATE 1/22/06: Guest Blogger Pokey Anderson builds the case for filibuster...