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November 8, 2003
Republicans Going to the Mattresses?

Today's Washington Post offers hope to those Republicans who believe that the Senate has allowed the Democrats a pain-free filibuster option for too long on federal judiciary nominees:

A brewing rebellion by conservative activists has prompted Senate Republican leaders to plan to devote at least 30 straight hours of debate next week to their bid to confirm a handful of judicial nominees being blocked by Democrats. The Republicans are bringing in food and cots for the "Justice for Judges Marathon," scheduled for Wednesday night through Friday morning.

It seems like they may be starting to take the filibusters seriously. No one has ever filibustered federal judiciary nominees before (with the exception of Abe Fortas' Supreme Court nomination in the sixties), and the Democrats have done it four times this session. But their obstructionism hasn't gotten a lot of play because the Republicans have allowed them to filibuster without actually doing anything. Is this a political risk? Perhaps, but to both sides, and there is a question of basic fairness in this. The President has the responsibility and the right to nominate judges for open seats as long as they're qualified and are not corrupt. The Senate has the duty to ensure that. It doesn't have the privilege of determining whether they're politically correct, and especially do not have the right to dismiss a nominee for their religious beliefs (William Pryor, a Catholic).

Republicans have their own statistics, saying the confirmation rate in Bush's two years is below that of any of the previous four presidents. Appeals court nominees, they say, were never filibustered before. They have also accused Democrats of being, in individual cases, anti-Catholic, anti-South and anti-Hispanic.

Democrats are using the filibuster to block U.S. District Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. of Mississippi, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans. Democrats had rejected him in 2001 when they controlled the Senate, but Bush renominated him as soon as Republicans regained the majority in January.

Also blocked by filibusters are Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla R. Owen, nominated for the 5th Circuit, and Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor Jr., nominated for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta.

Among the candidates for filibusters in coming weeks is Claude A. Allen, deputy secretary of health and human services, nominated for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond. Others include Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl, nominated for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, and California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Brett M. Kavanaugh, the White House staff secretary, who have been nominated for the D.C. Circuit.

Yes, that's quite a list, and if the Democrats have to be on TV night after night blocking Senate business to block all of these nominations, then it will detract from the Nine Dwarves' press coverage -- although that may be a blessing, depending on which foot Dean has in his mouth at the moment -- and equate the filibuster with the Texas Democrats in their Legislature who bugged out instead of conducting business. I think that overall it will have the effect of making the Democrats the Tantrum Party. We'll see soon enough, I suspect.

I got this from Power Line, which has a series of excellent posts this morning. Be sure to read them all.

UPDATE: Power Line also comments specifically on this report that Bill Frist will dismiss the Senate Intelligence Commitee until the Democrats explain who wrote the strategy memo threatening to warp the commitee's processes to allow the Democrats to claim a cover-up. Deacon figures that the combination of these two developments show Republican resolve to play hardball in response to these tactics. Good.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 8, 2003 12:34 PM

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