Kerry Urges Alito Filibuster

John Kerry, who failed to get elected president as “the reasonable candidate” in 2004, is joining Kos Nation and urging a fillibuster of Samuel Alito.

While this has gotten the base more excited than they’ve ever been about the junior Senator from Massachusetts, the idea has gone over like a lead balloon with his colleagues.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts could not attend the Senate debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Thursday. He was in Davos, Switzerland, mingling with international business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum. But late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kerry began calling fellow Democratic senators in a quixotic, last-minute effort for a filibuster to stop the nomination.

Democrats cringed and Republicans jeered at the awkwardness of his gesture, which almost no one in the Senate expects to succeed. “God bless John Kerry,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “He just cinched this whole nomination. With Senator Kerry, it is Christmas every day.” Steve Schmidt, a White House spokesman working on the nomination, said Mr. Kerry’s move “says a lot less about Alito than it does about the Iowa primary in 2008,” suggesting that Mr. Kerry, who lost the presidential race in 2004, was playing to his party’s liberal base in a bid to recapture its nomination.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, sounded almost apologetic about Mr. Kerry’s statements. “No one can complain on this matter that there hasn’t been sufficient time to talk about Judge Alito, pro and con,” Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor. “I hope that this matter will be resolved without too much more talking.”

Mr. Kerry’s call for a filibuster, an effort to stop confirmation by refusing to close debate and hold a vote, was joined by his fellow Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy.

Massachusetts, F– YEAH!

But when your own floor leader–one who has dutifully worn the mantle of red meat firebrand since being elevated to that position–instantly dismisses the rationale of your filibuster campaign, things are not looking good.

Then there’s the Conscience of the Senate.TM. Surely, he would support the inherent right of the World’s Greatest Deliberative BodyTM to derail such an outrageous nominee? Not so much. Michelle Malkin has the transcript and a video of a floor speech from Robert Byrd, with his usual combination of sober pomposity combined with home spun homilies, denouncing the antics that have surrounded the Alito hearings so far.

His speech from Davos having limited effect, Kerry decided to go to the people who used to hate him for a platform. Meet John Kerry, Kos Diarist.

Just think about how this nomination came to be. Under fire from his conservative base for nominating Harriet Miers–a woman whose judicial philosophy they mercilessly attacked–President Bush broke to extreme right-wing demands.

This was a coup.

Miers was removed and Alito was installed to replace the swing vote on the Court. The President gave no thought to what the American people really wanted–or needed. So it’s up to us to think about what America really needs – that’s part of the true meaning of “advice and consent.”

So, the reason that Alito must be denied a vote on the Senate floor is to avenge Harriet Miers, the least qualified Supreme Court nominee since Harold Carswell?

Massachusetts, F– YEAH!

The idea is going over well with his fellow Kos-ers.

davidwparker offers this trenchant analysis:

If a filibuster is broken by the Repugs going nuclear or if it fails, then the Democrats can argue when things go awry, that Repug policies don’t work; right to choose was taken away by the Repugs; the working class is struggling because the Repug Supreme Court rules against the working class; etc. Success’s Bob Fertik runs an enthusiastic reverse chronology of events. He argues that a filibuster could be successful if enough readers email their Senators.

Three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito. So right now, without the support of any Republicans, we still have 42 possible votes for a filibuster.

There are 4 moderate Republicans who should be targeted (Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Ted Stevens).

Three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. So we must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don’t support a filibuster.

The best way to persuade them would be for the Democratic leadership (Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and Debby Stabenow) and the five Presidential candidates (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh) to form a Emergency Save the Constitution Committee and enlist the support of pro-choice, pro-freedom, and pro-democracy activists in Louisiana, Colorado, and California) to persuade their Senators to support a filibuster.

Emergency Save the Constitution Committee? Starring Kerry, Clinton, and Biden?


Update: Bring ’em on!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    Kerry reminds me of a drowning man coming up for the third and final time, taking his last gasp of air, before he disappears forever.

    Good Bye John Kerry

  2. DaveD says:

    Oh the irony. Mr. Kerry is in Europe, babbling on like an out of touch European elitist about an issue he seems to have paid little attention to. It’s ashame he’s in Europe when such an important discussion is going on here. But, when has he ever had anything of significance to add to any important political discussion in the United States.

  3. Anderson says:

    Sigh. Maybe Kerry will fall flat on this & get over the idea that 2008 is something for him to look forward to.

  4. w0rf says:

    You know you’re listening to a wingnut when…

    … the talking point is that a White House lawyer, with no judicial experience, who came to Washington from the president’s gubernatorial staff, is a more acceptable nominee.

    Just keep talking, Kerry. Talk yourself into oblivion.