WASHINGTON - The 14 centrists who averted a Senate breakdown over judicial nominees last spring are showing signs of splintering on President Bush's latest nominee for the Supreme Court.
That is weakening the hand of Democrats opposed to conservative judge Samuel Alito and enhancing his prospects for confirmation.
The unity of the seven Democrats and the seven Republicans in the "Gang of 14" was all that halted a major filibuster fight between GOP leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid earlier this year over Bush's nominees.
The early defection of two of the group's Republicans, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, will give the GOP the upper hand if Democrats decide to attempt a filibuster of Alito, the New Jersey jurist nominated Monday to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
Oh, NOW I understand. In the AP's view, it's the job of the 'Gang of 14' to support the Democrats and oppose the Republicans. No wonder the AP is disappointed.