The Judicial Filibuster Deal

Here’s the short version of the deal that was cut on judicial filibusters — at least what’s being admitted publicly at the moment:

1) Judges William Myers and Henry Saad get tossed over the side.

2) 7 Republicans, John McCain (AR), John Warner (VA), Mike DeWine (OH), Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lincoln Chafee (RI), all agreed to vote against the nuclear option.

3) 7 Democrats, Ken Salazar (CO), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joseph Lieberman (CT), Mark Pryor (AR), Robert Byrd (WV) and Daniel Inouye (HI) agree that “(n)ominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances.”

First of all, if this deal is just what it appears to be on its face, is it a compromise that Republicans should be able to live with? I’d say “yes.” We may detest the idea of jettisoning two nominees, but if it meant an end to the judicial filibuster once and for all without an enormous brouhaha that lasts for months, it would probably be worth avoiding the hassle.

That being said, what does “extraordinary circumstances” mean exactly? Are we talking ethical problems? “Really conservative” nominees? Judges that liberal interest groups don’t like? We’re not being given a real answer. On top of that, why do I suspect that most conservatives will have a very different interpretation of “extraordinary circumstances” than Robert Byrd and Company will?

Furthermore, if this is such a great deal, why is it that no Republican in the Senate worth a bucket of warm spit actually signed on to it? Why did RINOS like McCain, Snowe, and Collins get on board and not Allen, Brownback, and McConnell?

What it all comes down to is that you can’t trust the judgement of the Republicans who are involved and you can’t trust the Democrats involved to keep their word. Unless we get some assurances that this deal in essence means the end of partisan judicial filibusters, I’d prefer to have gone nuclear and lived with the fall-out.

*** Update #1 ***: Checking around the right side of the blogosphere, the general reaction is pure outrage. Most conservative bloggers seem to believe the gutless moderates sold out the party again — which admittedly is true unless there was some sort of behind the scenes ironclad promise that those 7 Democrats involved won’t filibuster under practically any circumstances.

May I also add that the anger at McCain is burning as hot as the sun at the moment. Personally, I’ve always thought McCain was too despised to ever win the nomination in 2008, but this probably seals the deal. It’s also a dagger to the heart of Frist’s hopes in 2008 as well. If he’s such a weakling that he can’t even keep the RINOS in line on a vitally important issue like this, how can he be an effective President? He obviously just doesn’t have the right stuff to be a leader…

*** Update #2 ***: Here’s the reaction from the heavies on the left side of the blogosphere…

As an aside, the following judges are NOT getting an up or down vote: William Myers, Henry Said, Brett Kavanaughm William Haynes.”

“…There’ll be more outrage from their side, since quite frankly, they lost. Obviously we didn’t get everything we wanted, but they lost the ability to have carte blanche on the next supreme court justice.” — Daily Kos

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it.” — Avedon at Eschaton

“Overall, however, at least from this vantage point, I must agree with DHinMI: this is definitely a partial victory.. Frist is extremely weakened, and as a result so is the Republican caucus in the Senate. By contrast, Republican defectors have been greatly strengthened, thus strengthening the Democratic caucus as an oppositional force. Further, the Republican grassroots are de-energized, and will be for some time. Still further, we blocked a majority of the bad nominees, and kept at least some hope alive of defeating terrible Supreme Court nominees.

…The more I think about it, I agree with the overwhelming majority of MyDDers–there is no way that this is not more of a victory than a defeat.” — MyDD

“A good deal? A bad deal? We’re supposed to say we got a great deal to win clearly through spin what could not be won so clearly on the merits. It seems an awfully bitter pill to forego the filibuster on both Brown and Owen, particularly the former.

And the main issue isn’t resolved so much as it’s delayed. The moderate Republicans agree to preserve the filibuster so long as the Democrats use it in what the moderate Republicans deem a reasonable fashion. And yet the use of the filibuster, by its very nature, almost always seems unreasonable to those whom it is used against.

And finally there’s the key problem: the White House. Can this agreement really withstand the appointment of another hard right nominee? The subtext of the compromise must be that neither side will be pushed beyond its limits. But that would, I think, force the Democrats to resort to the filibuster.” — Talking Points Memo

“The worst, the compromise is in. Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor are in. Total capitulation by Democrats. Total victory for Frist. Let them spin it how they want, it’s a loss for the Democrats. Henry Saad of Michigan is the fall guy. He won’t get a vote. No one cared about him anyway. That’s tossing the Dems a chicken bone.

…We don’t have a “Republic” tonight. We have a total Republican regime. Welcome to the Theocracy.” — TalkLeft

It’s worth noting that Kos, TPM, & MyDD don’t seem to see this deal as any sort of hindrance to filibustering the next Supreme Court Justice. But if the Dems do filibuster a candidate for the SCOTUS or any other judge for that matter, the blowback from the base for the Republican Senators involved will be titanic.

*** Update #3 ***: From a post called “Draw Your Own Conclusions” by Paul Mirengoff of Powerline:

From my perspective, here are the two essential facts: (1) as virtually every Republican involved stressed, the deal makes sense for the Republicans only if the seven Democrats they worked with can be trusted to act in good faith on President Bush’s current and future nominees and (2) Robert Byrd is the leader of the seven Dems.

*** Update #4 ***: After interviewing Senator Brownback and finding out that it looks like nothing is being accomplished here except that we’re kicking the can down the road to the SCOTUS fight, I’d have to say this deal is little more than snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The reality is that we could have gotten all of our judges through and put an end to the filibuster fight over judges once and for all. Instead, we’ve sacrificed judges and the Democrats still have the filibuster option open. So this isn’t any sort of real compromise, it’s a capitulation by spineless RINOS that gave the Democrats an enormous & totally unnecessary win.

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