« Taking People's Homes | The RCP Blog Home Page | Polls: Missouri & Illinois »

Will the Dems Filibuster After Last Week's Debacle?

Last week at the start of the Alito hearings I suggested a filibuster was a very real possibility and figured that if the Democrats really wanted to give themselves a shot at beating Alito they were going to need to come out swinging and produce a few errors on Alito’s part. 

Instead of Alito being the one to stumble, however, Senate Democrats were the ones who came off looking less than stellar, punctuated by Alito’s wife breaking down when Senator Graham came to the defense of her husband’s honor. By the end of the week it looked like Alito was home free.

However, as this week comes to a close there are whiffs that maybe a filibuster attempt isn’t dead after all. Many of the liberal blogs are picking up an intensity on the Alito nomination that wasn’t evident last week. One of the biggest, Daily Kos, is keeping a daily whip count on the nomination, gleefully chalking up the growing number of Democratic 'no' votes.

Today’s Chicago Sun Times reports Sen. Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, will vote against Alito, which is no surprise given he voted against Roberts.  However, Durbin explicitly says they have not ruled out a filibuster.

Durbin said so many other senators intensely oppose Alito that they may have enough votes to sustain a filibuster against the conservative jurist…… He said he won't know until Tuesday if there are enough strong opponents to filibuster Alito's nomination……A week ago, I would have told you it's not likely to happen. As of [Wednesday], I just can't rule it out. I was surprised by the intensity of feeling of some of my colleagues. It's a matter of counting. We have 45 Democrats, counting [Vermont independent] Jim Jeffords, on our side. We could sustain a filibuster if 41 senators ... are willing to stand and fight.

This shocks me. And it leads me to believe that had Alito made a few gaffes or had Senate Democrats delivered a better performance last week, we would almost definitely be staring at a filibuster.

We’ll see what next week brings.