BREAKING: KERRY WILL LEAD FILIBUSTER!!!!!
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Update 10:00 pm: Barak Obama working against us?
Update 5:50 pm: AP reports "The Senate will vote Monday on cutting off debate. If Alito's supporters get 60 votes in the 100-member body, the confirmation vote will follow on Tuesday."
Update 4:23 pm: CNN confirms my report from 1 pm and says Ted Kennedy is supporting Kerry. The White House says they have 60 votes for cloture - but they also said Iraq had WMD's... and that Bush never met Jack. Go John Kerry!!!!!
Original post 1 pm: I have confirmed reports that Kerry wants to filibuster Alito, and he is talking to his colleagues to round up the 41 votes he needs.
Three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito. So right now, without the support of any Republicans, we still have 42 possible votes for a filibuster.
There are 4 moderate Republicans who should be targeted (Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Ted Stevens).
Three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. So we must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster.
The best way to persuade them would be for the Democratic leadership (Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and Debby Stabenow) and the five Presidential candidates (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh) to form a Emergency Save the Constitution Committee and enlist the support of pro-choice, pro-freedom, and pro-democracy activists in Louisiana, Colorado, and California) to persuade their Senators to support a filibuster.
Here is part of the speech Kerry gave yesterday. Kerry is absolutely right that Bush's nomination of Alito was all about capitulating to the radical right after they shot down Harriet Miers. I love the part about Ann Coulter!!!
“President Bush had the opportunity to nominate someone who would unite the country in a time of extreme divisiveness. He chose not to do this, and that is his right. But that he didn’t and how this nomination happened tells us a great deal about this presidency and how politics is driving this process.
“Under fire from his conservative base for nominating Harriet Miers—a woman whose judicial philosophy they mercilessly attacked—President Bush broke to extreme right-wing demands. This was a coup. Miers was removed and Alito was installed. The President did not consult with members of the Senate, as is required by the Constitution. He gave no thought to what the American people really wanted—or needed.
“Instead, he made this nomination about his political base. He made it about an ideological shift in the Court. He made it about unassailable conservative credentials and an unimpeachable conservative judicial philosophy.
“If you need proof, just look at the response of Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter is as inflammatory and as conservative as anyone in the country. She makes her living through character assassination. She denounced the nomination of John Roberts. She attacked the nomination of Harriet Miers, calling her completely unqualified and lamenting that President Bush had ‘thrown away a Supreme Court seat.’ Yet she celebrated the nomination of Samuel Alito, stating that Bush gave Democrats ‘a right-hook’ with this ‘stunningly qualified’ nominee. This from a woman who said that Republicans need to nominate a person who ‘wake[s] up every morning . . . chortling about how much his latest opinion will tick off the left.’
Kerry also highlights the issue of
presidential power dictatorship and the "unitary theory":
Judge Alito's hostility to individual rights is not limited to civil rights. He consistently excuses government intrusions into personal privacy - regardless of how egregious or excessive they are. In Doe v. Groody, for example, he dissented from an opinion written by then-Judge Michael Chertoff because he believed that the strip search of a 10-year old was 'reasonable.' He also thought the government should not be held accountable for shooting an un-armed boy trying to escape with a stolen purse, nor for forcibly evicting farmers from their land in a civil bankruptcy proceeding without any show of resistance.
This pattern of deference to government power is reinforced by a speech he gave as a sitting judge to the Federalist Society just five years ago.
In his speech, Judge Alito 'preach[ed] the gospel' of the Reagan Administration's Justice Department: the theory of a unitary executive. Though in the hearings, Judge Alito attempted to downplay the significance of this theory by saying it did not address the scope of the power of the executive branch but rather addressed the question of who controls the executive branch, don't be fooled. The unitary executive theory has everything to do with the scope of executive power.
In fact, even Stephen Calabresi, one of the fathers of the theory, has stated that '[t]he practical consequence of this theory is dramatic: it renders unconstitutional independent agencies and counsels.' This means that Congress would lose the power to protect public safety by creating agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission - which ensures the safety of products on the marketplace - and the Securities and Exchange Commission - which protects Americans from corporations like Enron - and the President would gain it.
Carried to its logical end, the theory goes much further than invalidating independent agencies. The Bush Administration has used it to justify both its illegal domestic spying program and its ability to torture detainees. The Administration seems to view this theory as a blank check for executive overreaching.
Judge Alito's endorsement of the unitary executive theory is not my only cause for concern. In 1986, while working in the Justice Department, Judge Alito endorsed the idea that presidential 'signing statements' could be used to influence judicial interpretation of legislation. His premise was that the President's understanding of legislation was as important as Congress' in determining legislative intent - startling when you consider that Congress is the legislative branch.
President Bush has taken the practice of issuing signing statements to a new level. Most recently, he used a signing statement to reserve the right to ignore the ban on torture that the Congress overwhelmingly passed. He also used signing statement to attempt to apply the law restricting habeas corpus review of enemy combatants retroactively - despite our understanding in Congress that it would not affect cases pending before the Supreme Court at the time of passage.
The implications of President Bush's signing statements are astounding: his Administration is reserving the right to ignore those laws it does not like. Only one thing can hold the President accountable: the Supreme Court. I am not convinced that will happen if Judge Alito is confirmed.
Reigning in excessive government power matters more today than ever before as we work to find the balance between protecting our rights and our safety. As Justice O'Connor said, the war on terror is not a blank slate for government action. We can - and must - fight it in a manner consistent with the Constitution.