Yesterday, Kos wrote:
I think it bears restating that Reid just proved to Senate Republicans that Democrats don’t need the filibuster to stop Alito (or any other judge, for that matter).
The Senate has plenty of parliamentary maneouvers available to the minority, any of which would accomplish the same thing in the end — preventing the majority from running roughshod over the minority.
Today should, for all intent purposes, make any talk of a “nuclear option” obsolete.
Could yesterday’s events have been all about Alito? This LA Times piece lends credibility to that theory:
Democrats began gearing up Monday for a high-stakes fight over federal appellate Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s nomination to the Supreme Court but stopped short of threatening to filibuster President Bush’s pick.
Democrats and Republicans predicted that Alito’s fate would probably be decided by the so-called Gang of 14 — senators from both parties who cobbled together a compromise in May that averted a showdown over judicial nominees.
“There is a potential for the Gang of 14 to perform a pivotal — if not decisive — role,” Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), a member of the group, said in a statement supporting the nomination.
Privately, senior Democratic staff members doubted that the seven moderate Democrats in the Gang of 14 would consider Alito’s strongly conservative record — or the fact that his ascension to the court could tip its balance — as the sort of extraordinary circumstances that would allow them to support a filibuster.
“I don’t think Democrats are going to say filibuster unless they are sure they want to filibuster and they have the votes,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the issue.
The worst thing to happen to the Democrats would be an attempted filibuster that is either broken legitimately, or broken with the nuclear option (which, as Mark Kleiman asserts, is not merely changing the rules, but cheating. I tend to agree, and do not want to see the so-called ‘constitutional option’ employed). Kos may be right that yesterday’s actions may be a shot across the bow should the Republicans attempt to use the nuclear option.