by Steven Ertelt
December 11, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — If necessary, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist says he will try to change Senate rules to prevent a filibuster by pro-abortion Senate Democrats on the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito.
"The answer is yes," the Tennessee senator told Fox News Sunday when asked about what he would do if a filibuster emerged.
"I have stood from day one on principle that these Supreme Court justices — nominees deserve an up or down vote, and it would be absolutely wrong to deny him that. And that’s what the constitutional option is," he said.
Frist said Alito is qualified for the Supreme Court and pointed to his 15 years of service on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Sam Alito, who has a modest judicial temperament … is someone who deserves advice and consent by the Senate," Frist told Fox News Sunday.
Recently, many Senate Democrats have questioned whether Alito should be approved for the high court and they point to two 1985 memos he wrote saying there is no right to abortion in the Constitution and seeking to limit Roe v. Wade through subsequent Supreme Court decisions.
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, participated in the Fox News interview and called Frist’s remarks "silly and unhelpful." He said Senate Democrats were waiting until after the hearings on Alito, scheduled to begin January 9, before deciding what to do.
However, he added that "all procedural options are on the table" once the Senate Judiciary Committee completes its hearings. "But we are months away from facing these kinds of decisions," he said.
Senate Democrats did not filibuster the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice, even though abortion advocates also believed he would vote to overturn unlimited abortion. As a result, he received 72 votes for his confirmation, showing strong bipartisan votes.
Alito would only need 50 votes to be confirmed, but it takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster, which makes it more difficult.
Should Democrats filibuster, Frist said he would pursue a procedural motion saying filibusters are only allowed against legislation but not Supreme Court nominees. The motion would only need 50 votes to pass.