WASHINGTON – To more effectively oppose Supreme Court nominees in the future, Democrats need to convince the public "their values are at stake" rather than use stalling tactics to try to thwart the president, said a senator who opposes Samuel Alito's confirmation.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., predicted on Sunday that an effort to try to block a final vote on Alito would fail on Monday. That would clear the way for Senate approval Tuesday of the federal appeals court judge picked to succeed the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Democrats fear he would shift the court rightward on abortion rights, affirmative action, the death penalty and other issues.
"We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake," Obama said.
"There is an over-reliance on the part of Democrats for procedural maneuvers," he told ABC's "This Week."
Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts are urging fellow Democrats to support a filibuster, citing in part Alito's conservative record on abortion and deference to executive power.
Alito's supporters must produce 60 votes to cut off a filibuster; an Associated Press tally shows at least 62.
The AP tally also shows that at least 53 Republicans and three Democrats intend to vote to confirm Alito; that is well over the required majority.
President Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address that senators should have an up-or-down on a nominee "who understands that the role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law."
Obama cast Alito as a judge "who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values."
But Obama joined some Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Charles Schumer of New York, in expressing his unhappiness with the filibuster bid.
"There's one way to guarantee that the judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court are judges that reflect our values. And that's to win elections," Obama said.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said he, too, would support the filibuster attempt but agreed that it was not particularly wise.