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Jeff Chorney’s article ["Filibusters an election casualty?" Nov. 4] suggests that Democratic senators in the coming 109th Congress may be unable or unwilling to filibuster certain judicial nominations. An equally plausible scenario indicates that they will. The position our own Sen. Dianne Feinstein takes at the Judiciary Committee will provide a good indication of how likely Democrats will prevail when the time comes to stand for the independence and fairness of the judicial branch. While it is true that the number of Democratic senators has been reduced to 44 (the lowest total since the 1920s), a numerical analysis alone ignores some unique factors that may loom large over nomination fights. For example, the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, R-Penn., has a 20-year history of independence on everything from civil rights to the Bork nomination to Clinton impeachment votes. Also, some moderately liberal Republican senators from states carried by Sen. Kerry may also not necessarily vote the party line on nominees that would change the balance of the Supreme Court. At the same time, among the retiring Democratic senators are many the party leadership did not count on to support filibusters. Most important, the new Democratic senators from Illinois and Colorado are an African-American lawyer, Barack Obama, and a Latino lawyer, Ken Salazar. On civil rights and judges, their voices may echo Illinois Democrat Carol Moseley Braun’s, when as the Senate’s first African-American woman in 1992, she led the fight against Jesse Helms on honoring the Daughters of the Confederacy. John D. Trasvina Berkeley You can send Letters to the Editor to The Recorder, 10 United Nations Plaza, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102; by fax at (415) 749-5549; or at [email protected].

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