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).

Posted by Rick Hasen at October 31, 2005 08:27 AM