Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Compromise is a loss for principle and the Constitution

So a compromise has been reached, and a group of 14 senators (an even smaller minority than the Democrats) has for all intents and purposes decided that some nominees will get a vote on the Senate floor and some will not, and which nominees fall into which group. The whole thing is disgusting, and here’s why:

1. Either the nominees were qualified, or they weren’t. If they were, the seven Democrats who participated in the deal had no legitimate right to filibuster the nominations. If they weren’t, those seven Democrats had no legitimate right to allow the vote on the nominees in order to preserve the filibuster.

2. I guarantee you that in the back of the minds of the Republican participants was the thought that the pendulum will eventually swing, and the filibuster should be preserved against the day when Republicans are in the minority. Well, either the filibuster on judicial nominees is legitimate, or it isn’t. (I happen to think it isn’t). If it is, the Republicans had no legitimate right to threaten to eliminate it. If it isn’t, then it still won’t be when a future Republican minority uses, or threatens to use, it.

The Senate has done nothing more than manage to avoid deciding the issue. An issue which will be reappearing the very first time Bush makes a Supreme Court nomination, because ANYBODY he is likely to nominate will fall into the “extraordinary circumstances” category.

As I see it, there are two big losers here. Bill Frist, because when push came to shove, he couldn’t deliver. And the Constitution, which is still held hostage by a minority of Senators who are apparently willing to use an extra-constitutional tactic, the judicial filibuster, to obstruct the appointment of apparently qualified judicial nominees. And I say apparently qualified, because enough Democrats to break the filibuster agreed to allow the nominations to proceed in order to preserve the filibuster for use another day.

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