Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 31, 2006

The New York Times report today on yesterday's 72-25 cloture vote on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court contains the term: "filibuster." We have the Times filibuster definition courtesy of editorial page editor Gail Collins.

When a cloture motion was made to move the nomination to a vote, Senator Frist voted against it.

Now today's Times news article (the editorial page still has yet to mention the failed filibuster they called for last week):

Forcing the vote to close debate was a final, symbolic effort by a handful of liberals to derail the nomination through a filibuster.


Among them were the senators of New York and New Jersey and one of Connecticut's, Christopher J. Dodd. The outcome in many ways reflected the resolution last spring of a battle over the Democrats' use of filibusters to block some of Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees.


The Republicans agreed to prevent the rule change. In exchange, the Democrats agreed to withhold their votes from filibusters except in "extraordinary circumstances."


Several members of the group, along with other moderate senators of both parties, had already said as much publicly, and by early last week more than the requisite 60 senators had committed to opposing a filibuster.


Many conservatives were disappointed by his failure to force the rule change and thus disarm the Democratic filibuster, but Mr. Frist can now argue that his threats have effectively cowed the Democrats into refraining from such tactics.


Mr. Kennedy and Senator John Kerry, both of Massachusetts, argued for an effort at a filibuster during a Democratic caucus meeting last Wednesday, provoking a passionate debate. Many Democrats have grumbled privately since then that mounting a doomed filibuster would only expose senators from conservative states to political heat.

There's lots of equivocating, but not once does the Times news pages suggest what happened yesterday was a filibuster, because it wasn't. For a filibuster to occur, a cloture motion must fail.

Not even the Times own news pages seem willing to use Gail Collins' dictionary.


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January 2006



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