Judges Tipping the Balance

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As the Senate potentially heads for a showdown today—barring some magic compromise, a vote is expected on whether Republicans are allowed to break the rules and deny Democrats the right to filibuster Bush’s judicial nominees or not—the Wall Street Journal has a great article that illustrates just why Bush’s nominees are so contentious. It’s not just that they’re radical right-wingers. It’s that they’ve all been specially selected for courts in which their rightism can really flex its muscles:

Janice Rogers Brown, for instance, has made scathing assessments about the reach of the federal government — and she is nominated to the appellate court that handles the majority of appeals of government-agency rulings.

William Myers, who has advocated against environmental groups, is in line to join the appellate court that sorts through land-use battles.

William Pryor, who called a section of the Voting Rights Act “an expensive burden that has far outlived its usefulness” — may be headed for an appellate court with jurisdiction over parts of the old Confederacy.

This isn’t some lunatic conspiracy theory that Democrats have about Republicans who want to roll back the New Deal. It would take a particularly willful act of obliviousness not to see what was going on here. Now if Republicans could just come out and say, “Yes, we want to start chipping away at government regulations, environmental protections, and maybe even the Voting Rights Act,” that would be one thing. But instead they hide behind the mantra of “fair up-and-down” votes for all nominees.

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Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

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It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

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