As the nation gears for hearings, a coalition of Connecticut progressive advocacy groups- plus a few left-leaning state representatives- today urged Democratic U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. And they even remembered to bring boxes of signed petitions for the television cameras.

Speakers railed against various Alito positions, from labor rights to abortion to civil rights. Alito has ruled to make it harder to sue for race-based employment discrimination, and he disagreed with the concept of ‘one man, one vote,’ said Joan Gibson, Second Vice President of the Connecticut State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.“We know that Samuel Alito has consistently stood in opposition to the very tenets of our organization,” Gibson said. “He stands for what we have historically fought against.”“We are in the fight of our lives,” added Judy Singer, a board member on the National Council of Jewish Women. The groups displayed boxes they said contained 11,000 signatures against Alito. Last month, state Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-West Hartford), one of the event sponsors, attended a meeting with Lieberman in which several state senators and representatives expressed their opposition to the nominee.Lieberman is viewed as much more crucial in the nomination process than Dodd, because Lieberman is a member of the so-called Gang of Fourteen, a bipartisan group of senators that agreed Democrats would only filibuster a judicial nominee in “extreme circumstances.” Yet the senators never defined that term. If Lieberman did decide some part of Alito’s record rose to the Gang of Fourteen threshold, Alito would face a rough road. In the meeting last month, Fleischmann said Lieberman mostly listened to the state politicians and indicated he would wait until after the hearings to give his position.So what if Lieberman decides against a filibuster? Asked if he thought Lieberman should be primaried for such a choice, Fleischmann said that would be a decision for any citizen weighing whether to run. Well, would Fleischmann support such a citizen?“I don’t believe in hypotheticals,” he responded.After the press conference, Fleischmann approached in the hall to clarify that he hadn’t previously thought about the primary question, because he believed Lieberman would be a good Democrat and fight Alito’s nomination.