Thursday, January 26, 2006

Federal Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. picked up two more Democratic endorsements yesterday, guaranteeing that he will be confirmed as the 110th associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

Democratic Sens. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Tim Johnson of South Dakota said they will support the nomination, even as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts phoned in for a filibuster from the Swiss Alps.

Mr. Kerry made calls yesterday while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, urging colleagues to join a last-ditch effort to thwart Judge Alito’s confirmation. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, joined in Mr. Kerry’s call for a filibuster.

Republicans — eager to relive the days during the 2004 presidential campaign when they called Mr. Kerry “an international man of mystery” — delighted in his choice of venue.

“He shouldn’t be wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money on long-distance phone charges calling for such obstruction,” said Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican.

“I hope it doesn’t interrupt his snowboarding plans,” added Joseph Cella, president of the conservative Catholic group Fidelis. He noted that American voters support Judge Alito’s confirmation by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

“While I’m sure Senator Kerry feels right at home at the plush resort, he has only further marginalized himself as a very liberal senator who is completely out of touch with middle American values,” Mr. Cella said.

The effort comes after the New York Times yesterday called for a filibuster in an editorial titled “Senators in Need of a Spine.” It also came shortly after the National Abortion Federation called for a filibuster.

Mr. Kennedy said he thinks Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will join the filibuster effort. That vote will take place Monday. If Republicans round up 60 votes — which many Democrats concede will happen — it will be followed by a final vote on confirmation on Tuesday.

Mr. Reid said earlier on the Senate floor, however, that more debate time — the primary reason for filibusters — would not be needed.

“No one can complain on this matter that there hasn’t been sufficient time to talk about Judge Alito, pro or con,” he said.

No matter how Mr. Reid votes, there won’t be enough Democrats to block the nomination. The 55 Senate Republicans already had at least five Democrats joining them in opposition to a filibuster, and got three more yesterday.

Mr. Johnson was joined by Sens. Ken Salazar of Colorado and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana in opposing a filibuster, though Mr. Salazar and Mrs. Landrieu said they will vote against Judge Alito’s confirmation.

Mr. Byrd, who drew a Republican challenger this week in his Republican-leaning state, delivered a stinging rebuke of his colleagues for the treatment of Judge Alito during the hearing.

“Was it really necessary to subject Mrs. Alito to the harsh glare of television klieg lights as she fled the hearing room in tears, fighting to maintain her dignity in response to others with precious little of their own?” he asked on the Senate floor.

Mr. Johnson, whose state President Bush won with 60 percent of the vote in 2004, said Judge Alito would not have been his pick for the Supreme Court.

“Nonetheless, I must conclude that Judge Alito possesses a high level of legal skill, is a man of solid personal integrity, and that his views fall within the mainstream of contemporary conservative jurisprudential thinking,” he said.

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