October 31, 2005
Why Alito Likely Won't Be Confirmed: The Future of the Senate, and the Supreme Court, Rests with the Gang of 14
As I predicted, President Bush has nominated a strong conservative to replace the failed nomination of Harriet Miers. We now have the battle that liberal and conservative interest groups have been anticipating ever since President Bush promised a Supreme Court nominee in the Scalia-Thomas mold.
It all comes down now to the 14 Senators who made a deal to prevent the triggering of the "nuclear option" in the Senate, and the politics of abortion. This is a high stakes game for those 14 Senators. Risk the wrath of the right (if you are a moderate Democrat) or the wrath of the left (if you are a moderate Republican).
I am ready to make my next prediction: Judge Alito will not be confirmed, because Democrats will threaten to use the filibuster for a nominee they will strongly paint as anti-choice. Moderate Republicans, such as Olympia Snowe, won't vote to trigger the nuclear option, and Judge Alito will not get a vote on the floor of the Senate. My level of confidence in this prediction: not high. With the stakes this high, the triggering of the nuclear option is very much in play, and the decline of the Senate as a deliberative institution is clearly in sight. (For background on how the nuclear option will change the nature of the Senate, see my Roll Call oped from April 25).