Here It Comes Again

by TChris

Update: In a piece entitled "The Uncompromising Mr. Bush," Carl Cannon reminds us of the other filibuster compromise.
Original post:

The "compromise" (capitulation?) over judicial nominations may unravel by the end of the Supreme Court's current term. The filibuster is protected only while the Republican Senators who defied Bill Frist adhere to their agreement. They're being pressured by the likes of James Dobson, who urges his radio listeners to subject Senators DeWine and Graham to a "continuing barrage" of conservative outrage. The right is threatening to challenge DeWine in next year's primary.

The compromising Senators have very different takes on the agreement's meaning. Democrats can filibuster under "extraordinary circumstances," a deliberately vague phrase that leaves room for a wide diversity of interpretation. Members of the extreme right will never believe that "extraordinary circumstances" exist to justify the filibuster of a Bush nominee, and they intend to attack the agreement as soon as Democrats block a judicial confirmation.

The filibuster exists only so long as Republican compromisers continue to block the right wing's goal: burying the filibuster before Chief Justice Rehnquist resigns. Graham is already showing signs of caving in to the pressure.

Mr. Graham said he might yet vote to change the rules if he felt the Democrats were not living up to their end of the agreement by letting judges come up for votes. "If there is a filibuster that is not, in our opinion, extraordinary circumstances," he said, "all bets are off."

Conservative extremists want to test the compromise immediately by advancing William Myers' nomination. Myers was not included in the group of nominees whose confirmations were assured by the compromise. Sen. Reid says he expects Democrats to block Myers, while Frist threatens a return to the nuclear option if a filibuster occurs. The extreme right hopes that provoking that confrontation will position them to peel DeWine and Graham away from the compromise.

The extremists may be in a struggle with the White House, which can't benefit from an immediate confrontation. The administration needs to delay the Senate's implosion if it wants to advance its legislative agenda. And since the outcome of a vote on the nuclear option is still uncertain, the administration wants to hustle through the remaining nominees whose confirmation is assured while the compromise holds. Senator Craig nonetheless claims that Frist wants a vote on Myers as soon as the Senate returns from recess.

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    Re: Here It Comes Again (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mreddieb on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    There is another source of pressure on both sides. It's the Voters, and public opinion. If it is perceived the repuglicans are responsible for bringing up the Nuclear option again it will be the death nell for the party in 06. All the polls show americans are fed up with this issue, Frist and the extremies!

    Re: Here It Comes Again (none / 0) (#2)
    by ras on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    The key question, if we really wish to cut to the chase, is this: Does disagreement over an otherwise qualified nominee's judicial philosophy constitute "extraordinary circumstances?" Or does it take something much more than that, something ... well, extraordinary ... such as solid evidence (not just accusations, of course) of corruption, espionage, or criminal activity? Oh, and ED B, as for public opinion, you are miles off base. Any proposal mandating that: a) the opposition could filibuster for a limited period of time, such as a few weeks, to give them a chance to make a point and to raise a warning to the public, as they saw fit AND; b) was then followed by a vote would be overwhelmingly popular. The public accepts the filibuster as a delaying tactic, but not as a suppression of each state's right to have its vote counted in the Senate. Permanent and ongoing filibustering would harm the Dems far, far more than voting on nominees would ever harm the Republicans.

    Re: Here It Comes Again (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    right, ras, and this is why you were so irritated when 62 of Clinton's appointments never came up for each state to have its vote counted in the US Senate?

    Re: Here It Comes Again (none / 0) (#4)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:26 PM EST
    et al - When you cut a deal with someone who is going against their organization, you shouldn't be surprised that the deal doesn't work. Ed B - webmacher provided the following information from the recent USA Today poll. "53% want the filibuster retained. 69% wanted the up/down vote." Since the Repub proposal does exactly that,the filibuster retained except for judical nominees, they are in a good position. i.e. The more people know about it, the more they will support it.

    Re: Here It Comes Again (none / 0) (#5)
    by ras on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    CA, By definition, only a minority can filibuster; the majority - such as the Republicans during the timeframe you cite - have no need. Redefining a past action as a filibuster, when it was not, doesn't change it. And besides, are you really saying that you'd take your precedents as to what's right and what's wrong from the Republicans? I still think that a motion to allow filibusters for a set length of time (as a function of the number of Senators voting for it, perhaps?), then having the vote afterwards, is a political winner, and for good reason: it preserves the will of the democratic majority while still allowing a determined minority the opportunity to make extra noise, to inform the public, or to delay decisions it feels especially strongly about. For a time. In this era of instant communications, even just a few weeks - three or four? - should be sufficient for a matter such as a judicial confirmation. At that point, public pressure would work its magic, provided of course that the opposition really had a case worth taking to the public in the first place. And if not, not.