In the end, only 24 of the chamber’s 44 Democrats went along with the filibuster, a maneuver allowed under Senate rules to block a vote by extending debate indefinitely. It was also supported by the chamber’s lone independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont.
Arguing against cutting off debate, Sen. John Kerry — who spearheaded the filibuster effort with his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy — said Alito’s record during his 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given “the extreme right wing unbelievable public cause for celebration.”
“That just about tells you what you need to know,” Kerry said. “The vote today is whether or not we will take a stand against ideological court-packing.”
But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the move to cut off debate fulfilled a “very straightforward principle — a nominee with the support of a majority of senators deserves a fair up-or-down vote.”
“The sword of the filibuster has been sheathed because we are placing principle before politics, and results before rhetoric,” Frist said.