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January 17, 2006
That's One

Ben Nelson of Nebraska became the first Senate Democrat to declare himself in support of Samuel Alito for confirmation to the Supreme Court. Nelson, who has to defend his seat this year in a state that went to Bush by over 30 points in 2004, will probably not start an overwhelming trend but will prevent a filibuster nonetheless:

Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a moderate voice in the U.S. Congress, on Tuesday became the first Senate Democrat to announce his support for conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who is expected to be confirmed later this month by the full Republican-led Senate.

"I have decided to vote in favor of Judge Samuel Alito," Nelson said in a statement issued by his office.

"I came to this decision after careful consideration of his impeccable judicial credentials, the American Bar Association's strong recommendation and his pledge that he would not bring a political agenda to the court," Nelson said.

Republicans thought that Nelson might back Alito, if for no other reason than to ensure against an embarrassing challenge from the GOP in November on the issue. That does make it much more difficult for the Democrats to stage a filibuster, with both Nelson -- a Gang of 14 member -- and Dianne Feinstein opposing the manuever. Harry Reid could lose no more than two more Democrats to sustain one, and at least four more have the same red-state issue as Nelson. Nelson says that the filibuster has no real support anyway:

"I think there won't be a filibuster. I have not heard very many people even talking about it," Nelson told Fox News.

The Alito nomination should have sailed through the Judiciary Committee today, but got postponed yet another week as the Democrats reneged on an earlier arrangement to put the one-week delay into the start of the hearings instead of at the vote. That's the best that the impotent Democrats can do -- display their inability to affect the legislative schedule, a problem they created from breaking deals such as the delay waiver. No matter; Frist has already canceled the Senate's one-week vacation to get the confirmation completed before the State of the Union speech by the President.

The impotence may last as long as the Alito membership of the Court if the Democrats can't bring themselves to grow up.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 17, 2006 9:31 PM

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