On January 27, Senator John Kerry and Senator Ted Kennedy, both from Massachusetts, attempted to filibuster or block the vote on Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination for the Supreme Court. While Alito’s nomination was not a poor choice for the Supreme Court, these senators’ attempt at filibustering was clearly a desperate political move.
Furthermore, Kerry announced his proposal to filibuster in Switzerland, as he attended the World Economic Forum. If Kerry wanted to be taken seriously in Washington D.C., then he should have announced the filibuster in the nation’s capitol.
Regardless, Kerry fought a losing battle. In Congress, Democrats occupy 44 seats in the Senate and Republicans hold 55 seats. Senate rule dictates that a filibuster requires 41 votes to pass. Before voting on Alito’s nomination, it was assumed that 62 senators would vote against the filibuster. That number was two more than how many is needed to oppose it.
However, when it came time to vote for the filibuster, only 24 of the senators voted to allow it. This futile attempt at trying to stop Alito’s nomination is what makes the Democrats look politically desperate.
It was common knowledge that Kerry and Kennedy would oppose the nomination. Yet, if Kerry wanted to gain some political traction on impeding Alito’s nomination, he should have looked across the aisle. The Republicans have control of the legislative, judiciary, and executive branch. While many are politically conservative, some are moderates who could have helped Kerry further in the filibuster attempt. Moderate Republicans like Senator John McCain (R-AZ) could have bolstered Kerry’s cause.
The mere fact that the Republicans control Congress made it hard to take Kerry’s attempt at a filibuster seriously. However, like any political cycle, the make up of Congress will change.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court will not change much, as all of its members hold their positions for life. Alito’s decisions will not just affect a conservative or liberal Congress -it will affect Americans for the next twenty years.
Kerry’s actions were noble in theory. However, they were unrealistic. He should not have assumed that every Democrat would have voted for. He should have persuaded moderate Republicans from across the aisle to assist him in his proposal. Kerry should have announced his idea in Washington, where he could have surveyed the political landscape.
Such actions by Democrats make it hard for any person, even those who vote Democratically, to support this party.