The Senate confirmed Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court on Tuesday by a vote of 58-42, a day after an attempt by some Democratic senators to block his nomination fizzled.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction from some of the liberal sites, like DailyKos, after enough Democrats voted "No" to have sustained the filibuster.
Of course, this makes a certain amount of sense. The Democrats want to maintain the right to filibuster should it prove necessary and don't want to blow it on someone like Alito who's in the mainstream of judicial thought, despite the claims of many on the Left. If the Democrats blow the filibuster on this guy, who no Republican voted (I'm excluding Chafee as a Republican) against, then the Republicans have virtual carte blnche to do as they wish.
Now, I don't believe that the Republicans would abuse that privilege. Between the media and moderates in the GOP, no true radical right-winger could get through the nomination process. So the Republicans will continue, "nuclear option" or no, to nominate conservatives who are to the right of center, but within the mainstream of judicial thought.
Ed Whelan had a good summary
of the accomplishments of those who supported the filibuster:
1. Absent the filibuster effort, lots of attention would mistakenly have been focused on whether Judge Alito would reach the filibuster-proof level of 60 votes on final confirmation. If he were to fall short of that, the media would proclaim that the vote level sends a warning shot that another nominee like Alito could be filibustered. By forcing an actual vote on cloture, Kerry and Kennedy have deprived the Left of this pretend-filibuster argument. The starting point now for analysis of the politics of any subsequent nomination is that a nominee like Alito can expect to receive more than 70 votes on cloture.
2. Kerry and Kennedy have turned the wrath of the Left against those 19 Democrats (nearly half the caucus) who voted for cloture. (Byron York quotes one angry, obscene diatribe from DailyKos.) I don’t see how this is going to help red-state Democrats. If only Kerry and Kennedy could have been uniters rather than dividers . . . .
3. By using the filibuster weapon against a nominee whom the public rightly recognizes to be superbly qualified, Kerry and Kennedy have undermined Democrats’ future use of that weapon. Crying wolf isn’t a good way to build credibility. (Of course, the Left hopes to show over time that Alito is a real wolf, but I have much greater faith in the public’s ability to recognize good judging.)