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Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Gang of 14 Update
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:42 pm

Via the AP: Senate’s ‘Gang of 14′ Fractures Over Alito

The 14 centrists who averted a Senate breakdown over judicial nominees last spring are showing signs of splintering on President Bush’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court.

That is weakening the hand of Democrats opposed to conservative judge Samuel Alito and enhancing his prospects for confirmation.

The unity of the seven Democrats and the seven Republicans in the “Gang of 14″ was all that halted a major filibuster fight between GOP leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid earlier this year over Bush’s nominees.

The early defection of two of the group’s Republicans, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, will give the GOP the upper hand if Democrats decide to attempt a filibuster of Alito

None of this really makes sense. For one, based on what is in the article there is no evidence of “splintering”-instead we get this:

“People like Lindsey Graham and I, who were part of that group, I think you can bet we’ll be willing to vote to change the rules of the Senate so that we do not have a filibuster,” DeWine said only hours after Alito was announced.

Quite honestly, that is just the basic position of the 7 Reps in the 14-that if the Democrats filibuster under less than extraordinary circumstances, that they would be willing to “go nuclear.” As such, that statement by DeWine doesn’t represent anything new Heck the headline states that there was a “fracture”-either there is more to this story, or the author is reaching for drama.

Further, the analysis by the AP reporter is quite poor:

The loss of Graham and DeWine makes the “Gang of 14″ less influential.

Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate, and while confirmation requires a simple majority, it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.

However, Frist needs only a simple majority — 51 votes — to eliminate the stalling tactic.

That means he needs two members of the centrist group to join the rest of the GOP to make his goal. With a 50-vote tie in the Senate, Vice President Dick Cheney would cast the tie-breaking vote for the Republicans and Alito could be confirmed with majority support.

This assumes that Frist has a ready-to-launch 48 votes to change the rules. This may not be the case. It is far too early to be able to decide how either a filibuster would go, or how the nuclear vote would go.

Holland (the AP writer) needs to take a deep breath.

Also, of interest in re: Alito and abortion:

Durbin said that the judge never refused to answer any of his questions — as Miers and John Roberts had during their private interviews — and that Alito told him he saw a right to privacy in the Constitution, one of the building blocks of the court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.

Filed under: Abortion, Courts/the Judiciary | |Send TrackBack

1 Comment »

  1. The AP writer has to have some kind of controversy to sell this story to his editors. It’s not really “news,” but what else have they got?

    Comment by bryan — Wednesday, November 2, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

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