Sixty votes are needed to end debate, and not enough Democrats have indicated they are willing to go all the way to block the nominee. Three Democrats have already indicated they will vote for Alito: Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Explaining his stance, Byrd said his constituents told him they were “appalled” by the harsh questioning appellate judge Alito faced at his Senate confirmation hearings, reported The New York Times.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Friday he is “leaning in favor of voting for” Alito, according to the Associated Press. “It is clear to me that a majority of the American people and the people I represent support his confirmation,” he said.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, began calling fellow Democratic senators Thursday, pressing for a filibuster to stop the nomination.
But few Democrats have joined Kerry’s cause.
“No one can complain on this matter that there hasn’t been sufficient time to talk about Judge Alito pro and con,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told The New York Times.
Some Alito supporters viewed Kerry’s actions as actually helping garner support for the nominee.
“God bless John Kerry,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told The New York Times. He just clinched this whole nomination. With Senator Kerry, it is Christmas every day.”
Kerry, a 2004 presidential candidate, wrote on the liberal blog, the Daily Kos, “People can say all they want that ‘elections have consequences.’ Trust me, more than anyone I understand that. But that seems like an awfully convoluted rationale for me to stay silent about Judge Alito.”
A Senate vote to confirm the nation’s 110th Supreme Court justice is expected to occur Tuesday, just hours before President Bush’s State of the Union address that night.
“We are going to have a vote on Tuesday morning,” Reid told the AP. “Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster, but it’s an opportunity for people to express their opinion on what a bad choice it was to replace Sandra Day O’Connor.”