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Are Dems Saving the Filibuster for Stevens?

A reader emails:

The Dems are in a quandary. Their base wants a filibuster of course, but there is no way it's going to fly with Alito. I believe they can't risk getting nuked, because then if something were to happen to JPS or RBG they'd be up a creek. I believe they have to bluster as much as possible, but at the end of the day they need to save the filibuster in case one of the court's liberals ends up getting replaced by Bush. It might not work even then (at least I sure hope not), but that's how I feel they are going to hedge their bets.

JPS and RBG are John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the most liberal members of the court and also the next two most likely vacancies. The email makes a good point, and maybe the Democrats are thinking ahead to what may happen if the Stevens or Ginsberg seats would open up.

But I suspect Gonzalez is a heavy favorite for Bush's next pick, if he gets one, and I don't know that a Gonzalez for Stevens or Ginsberg swap is an easier filibuster than Alito for O'Connor. The bottom line is any filibuster for a Supreme Court nominee on ideological grounds is almost impossible with the nuclear option lurking in the background and only 45 seats. The Democrats' best bet to hedge against a Stevens or Ginsberg vacancy pre-2009 is to pick up some Senate seats in '06.