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Democrat’s Filibuster fizzles

AP photo/ Rob Carr

Democrats were embarrassed across the nation when last Monday's attempted filibuster to stop the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito ended before it began resulting in his confirmation to the court last Tuesday.

Lack of unity among Democrats in the Senate was evident as 24 of the Senate's 44 Democrats supported the filibuster as well as the lone independent in the chamber.

In the Senate, there is an allotted amount of time that a bill can be debated; after the time is up they must take a vote. A filibuster involves endless debate to keep a measure from going to vote. Democrats needed 41 votes in the 100-member Senate to start the filibuster, whereas 60 votes are needed to end one.

Filibusters have been a source of bitter controversy in the Senate this year after Democrats used a series of them to block President Bush's appellate court nominees. The arguments got so heated that Republicans in the Senate threatened to change the rules to ban judicial filibusters, according to the Washington Post.

John Kerry announced a week before the filibuster that he, along with Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy, would lead the fight to block Alito's nomination although many Democrats thought it was doomed from the beginning.

"I thought it was kind of good that John Kerry was taking a stand, but I feel like it was too little too late," said Emily Packard, a first-year Mills graduate student.

According to, Kerry said Alito's record of decisions during his 15 years on the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given "the extreme rightwing unbelievable cause for celebration."

Many Democrats, and at least one Republican have spoken out about what Alito's confirmation could for such hot topics as abortion rights, gay marriage and civil rights.

Confirmation of Alito was all but guaranteed and the filibuster lacked support and credibility from the beginning. A vote of 72 to 25 ended the filibuster before it began.

"I think it's depressing how easily the Democrats got defeated. We are just completely pummeled by the Republicans over and over again. It's really important that they get the power back," said junior Wendi Goad.

The Senate confirmed Alito's nomination last Tuesday with a vote of 58 to 42. According to, it was the closest confirmation vote since Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991.