Some Deal

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I’m sure everyone’s been reading analyses of the big Senate filibuster deal elsewhere. (If not, Joe Gandelman has the roundup to end all roundups.) My view? Well, I’m on record as arguing that a strict supermajority requirement—or at the very least, a viable filibuster threat—is probably a good thing for all judicial nominees, in order to keep the bench stacked with moderates who represent the will of the broader Senate, and that’s not what was put in place here. Under the current arrangement, the Democrats can only filibuster in “extraordinary circumstances”—something that was already being done—so we’ll see if that actually moderates the choices of judges. Given that Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen were both set to be confirmed—two corporate shills in judges’ robes with only the loosest of respect for precedent—I’m guessing not.

On the plus side, though, the Democrats still have the ability to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee to replace the soon-to-be-retiring William Rehnquist, and I think the threat of a Supreme Court showdown—and this time under a hotter media glare—will be enough to convince Bush to nominate a less-activist conservative.

On the downside, Tom Frank is right that the Republicans won the framing game here: “By bracketing the debate between two right-wing extremes—confirm every nominee except for a handful or confirm every nominee through use of the nuclear option—the Republicans had won before they’d even begun.” More focus ought to have been put on the fact that Bush really is nominating terrible judges, beyond the pale. Again, these aren’t people who somehow “apply” the law instead of some liberal alternative, they’re all bought-and-paid-for corporate hacks or wholly unqualified legal minds. The Republicans have successfully obscured that little fact, and they succeed in doing so every time they shamelessly imply that liberals don’t like Janice Rogers Brown because she’s black, or William Pryor because he’s Catholic.

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