Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) made news Thursday when he told the Associated Press he didn’t know if Democrats had the numbers to sustain a filibuster of Samuel Alito confirmation.
"When you consider the numbers involved, it is unlikely," Durbin said.
At least one moderate Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson (D.-Fla.), and at least one Republican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.), said publicly Thursday they had not yet made up their minds on Alito. In Nelson’s case, he’ll decide after meeting with Alito. Chafee simply remains unsure how he’ll vote.
Meanwhile, no Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have indicted they would vote for Alito. A united Democratic caucus would give the party enough votes (41) to launch a filibuster of Alito — but no one, even Durbin, believes the party will be united in opposition.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa), who spoke to bloggers Wednesday, said senators from Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor), Nebraska (Ben Nelson), North Dakota (Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad) and Florida (Bill Nelson) are most likely to vote for Alito. Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) was the only Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who Grassley predicted might vote for Alito.
Even if Democrats don’t launch a filibuster, there are still delaying tactics they can employee. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) said Tuesday on Bloggers’ Row that he wants Democrats to abandon those thoughts.