Democrats In The Gang Of 14: Doesn’t Look Like “Extraordinary Circumstances” By Betsy Newmark

We’re starting to hear from some of the more moderate Democrats and it doesn’t sound like they’re armed and ready for a filibuster fight.

“I haven’t heard any of my colleagues on the Democratic side talk about extraordinary circumstances,” Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson told reporters. “The question hasn’t even been raised.”

Still, Nelson wouldn’t rule out supporting such a tactic if any facts about Alito emerge to justify its use.

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor, another signer of the agreement, declined to speculate about whether the nomination would give rise to a filibuster. Still, Pryor said, “I start with the presumption that there are no extraordinary circumstances.”

`Very Early’

“It’s very early, maybe in my mind. Those could present themselves, I certainly would hope they would not do that on this nomination,” Pryor said.

Like Johnson, Nelson and Pryor are from states President George W. Bush carried in last year’s presidential election, and both supported Roberts’s confirmation.

Other Democrats who supported Roberts, confirmed by a 78-22 Senate vote to succeed the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, said they would ignore calls from liberal activist groups to oppose the nomination until they had a chance to study his record.

Three Washington-based advocacy groups, People for the American Way; NARAL Pro-Choice America, the largest U.S. abortion rights group; and Alliance For Justice have announced their opposition to Alito. These groups argue that Alito’s 15- year record as an appellate judge shows hostility to civil liberties and abortion rights.

`Own Judgment’

“I am going to make my own judgment,” said North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, who supported Roberts. “I don’t need some group out here telling me how to think and certainly how to vote.”

Conrad said Alito’s dissent from an appeals court decision that struck down a Pennsylvania requirement that married women notify their husband before undergoing an abortion won’t determine his decision on whether to vote for confirmation.

“The question is, is this man qualified, is he in the broad mainstream of American jurisprudence?” Conrad told reporters.

Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, who also signed the filibuster agreement, said he wants to study Alito’s record to determine whether he is a judicial activist. “People have said that he is an ideologue, I don’t know that yet.”

I think we’re headed for a period of Kabuki theater. The interest groups will unleash their ads and blast e-mails on a daily business. They’ll go on talk shows and spout forth their twisted interpretations of Alito’s rulings. People will write editorials and talk in panels about his nomination. And the groups on both sides will raise beaucoup funds. But, in the end, it won’t matter. Alito will be confirmed and comfortably so, just like Chief Justice Roberts. So we can relax and watch the show, but this is one play for which I know the ending.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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