27 May 2005

It is the left that has lost the most with the accord

So writes Arizona Republic columnnist Rob Robb on the matter of the recent judges compromise and I would have to say that his assessment is on the mark.
Conservatives have denounced the accord's statement encouraging President Bush to consult with both Republicans and Democrats before making judicial nominations as some sort of untoward limitation on his authority. But if there are seven Democrats who have publicly announced their willingness to buck their leadership on such nominations, working with them is simply smart politics.

Conservatives would have preferred to lift the specter of the filibuster from judicial nominees entirely, but it's not clear that there were the votes in the Senate to do so.

That option, however, remains.

Republicans get a free pass for a number of judges right now AND they can always still pursue a "change of rules" to suit future nominees.

Personally, I don't have a sentiment one way or another on the filibuster rules — everybody wants to think of the noble Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington, but to my recollection, it's been used to thwart good as much as it has been deployed as a beacon for gathering consensus against dubious Senate acts. As troublesome as the character of some of Bush's nominees may be, as they say, to the victors go the spoils, and if Senate Republicans can flex enough legislative muscle, the prizes belong to them.

However, the notion advanced by Republicans that filibusters have never been used to block nominees to federal courts is just pure bull. Even Supreme Court nominees have been blocked by filibuster, despite attempts of Republican historical revisionism to greasepaint a different story. And even an obedient mainstream media has sung along with them, even attempting to erase the fact that it was Republican Trent Lott that coined the term "nuclear option".

In the current state of Congressional affairs, Democrats folded instead of calling the bluff of a Republican dominated Congress that continues to sink in approval, to the lowest point in a decade. And cowering to bullies isn't likely to earn them votes in the 2006 elections either.


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