Monday, May 23, 2005

Moderates Reach Compromise

It appears that 14 Senators have come together and reached a compromise on the issue of judicial filibusters. It seems that people on both sides are less than thrilled, which my old friend Lew McManus would say is probably a good sign.

Folks in the blogosphere are trying to pick winners and losers, but I am glad that the right to filibuster has been maintained. This right is more important than a few nominees. If the nuclear option had passed it would only have been a matter of time before the rules were changed for other matters under debate. Issues of national security, appropriations, etc. would have been subject to limited debate in the not-too-distant future.

We need to protect the rights of the minority -- currently the Democrats, but not so long ago the Republicans. It is important for partisan reasons, but also for small states versus large states, rural versus urban, and so on. For that reason, I am glad that the rules weren't changed in the middle of the game.

For those who insist on determining "winners" and "losers" consider these remarks:

First from Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson, upon the announcement by members of the U.S. Senate that a compromise had been reached:
"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals."
On the other side my early pick for 2008, Senator Russ Feingold (Wis), released the following statement:
"This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions. I value the many traditions of the Senate, including the tradition of bipartisanship to forge consensus. I do not, however, value threatening to disregard an important Senate tradition, like occasional unlimited debate, when necessary. I respect all my colleagues very much who thought to end this playground squabble over judges, but I am disappointed in this deal."
It will take some time to know whether this compromise affects future nominations for the courts and especially the Supreme Court, but for today the rights of the minority are still in place and that's a good thing.

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