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May 24, 2005
Welcome To Versailles, Circa 1921

While the venerable hands of John Warner and Robert Byrd applaud themselves and their twelve comrades for devising a compromise that supposedly ends the battle over judicial confirmations, the rest of the country on both sides of the political divide have woken to the fact that nothing has really been resolved. Even the one major daily whose editorial board lavished praise on the centrists reports in its front-page analysis that this peace treaty amounts to little more than a temporary cease-fire:

It means that at least three of the nominees who have been blocked for years will make it to the appellate courts, while at least two will not. Beyond that, without a total ban on judicial filibusters, as the nuclear option would have guaranteed, the president will not have such a free hand in selecting a Supreme Court nominee. He also will be under pressure from the moderates to work more cooperatively with the Senate on judicial nominations or face rebellion from at least some of them.

For that reason, the fragile compromise, stitched together in the office of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) just as the Senate began an all-night session, will not necessarily end the battle over the future shape of the judiciary. At best, the group produced a cease-fire in the judicial wars that will deal with nominees who long have been in the confirmation pipeline.

After that, no one can say with certainty whether the deal will stick, particularly if there is a Supreme Court nomination in the near future, as many anticipate. The 14 senators who joined hands last night said theirs is an agreement based on faith and goodwill, but there is no certainty or even commitment that they will continue to operate as a group once past the current nominees in question.

"I think they did what the Senate very often does," said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University and a longtime student of the Senate. "They kicked the can down the road. They basically postponed a crisis and set up the predicate for another one in the future on the Supreme Court nomination."

In other words, welcome to Versailles. The centrists who made their play for power last night have constructed an elaborately meaningless document that holds no one truly accountable for their actions and only applies to five of the controversial nominees, splitting them 3-2 for the Administration. It may sound Solomon-like, but in the end the nuclear option will return to the table as soon as the Democrats filibuster anyone outside of Saad and Myers. They have not ended the war, but have merely set the seeds for a more polarizing battle than ever before, as accusations of "bad faith" will now be added to the abuse-of-power allegations already bandied about so casually during this debate.

In the meantime, the GOP centrists will have explicitly endorsed the use of the filibuster in dealing with interbranch transactions, against the model of equality among the branches, while the Democrat centrists have betrayed the notion that ideology had nothing to do with their obstructionism. The only winners appear to be Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor, and only because they've been allowed to escape.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 24, 2005 6:30 AM

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» Senate Compromise from Ogre's Politics and Views
Many other Bloggers smarter than I are weighing in on the issue of the Senate Compromise regarding the filibuster of judges. I've seen various opinions from a total Democrat victory to a major Republican defeat. A few have mentioned that it just migh... [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2005 8:44 AM

. . . the 14 signatories and seven Republican signatories have now basically told the President to not bother with a nominee who won't meet the DEMOCRATS' approval. That means that the 45 Senators in the Democratic caucus have a veto over the re-electe... [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2005 1:59 PM

» Snatching Defeat From The Jaws of Victory from Thirty Second Thoughts
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Tracked on May 24, 2005 10:28 PM

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