Filibuster Showdown? I Don’t Believe It
Longtime readers who were around for the Coalition of the Chillin’ days will recall that our position – that the filibuster deal by the Gang of 14 was a huge win for the Republicans in that it gave up nothing in return for an exacting standard for filibusters – was definitely not shared by the majority of bloggers on the right. Perhaps most vocal of the opponents (or at least, way up there!) was our good friend Captain Ed, and in commenting on this piece in the Washington Post, he shows that he has most definitely not chilled in the interim:
Now the Seven Republican Dwarves of the Gang of 14 will see the folly in compromising with the Democrats. They now have to make up their minds about whether to support Bush’s nominees to the Supreme Court or to protect a filibuster that has been abused by the Democrats to overturn the results of two elections in terms of controlling judicial nominees. They could have resolved this four months ago, with the stakes less than today and with a lower level of media attention. Now they find themselves only a year away from an important election cycle, where the voters will surely remember whether they supported a Supreme Court pick rather than an obscure appellate nomination.
Fellow Coalitionist Timothy Goddard begs to differ:
Why, you may ask, is the good Captain still so wrought over this, an agreement that has seen some of the most conservative judges ever appointed to the Federal bench, and an agreement that is seeing John Roberts sail the through the nomination process like a massive judicial yacht? Why, because the Democrats assure us that, next time, honest to goodness we promise cross-our-hearts–they’re going to filibuster.
Specifically, Howard Dean and Harry Reid are saying that. Fortunately for the Democrats, they don’t have a say in it. The only people with a say are the seven generally moderate Democrats who have said they won’t filibuster. Of the three of those people quoted in the article, two of them make the appropriately vague noises about possibly filibustering “conservative ideologues,” but Ben Nelson doesn’t even do that.
And even if the Democrats do decide to filibuster next time, it won’t matter–it only takes two of the seven Republicans to end that filibuster, and the article makes clear that, as I asserted back in May, Mike DeWine and Lindsey Graham are ready, willing and able to use the massive amounts of power this deal has given them.
Not surprisingly, I am more persuaded by Timothy’s argument on this issue, as I have been from the beginning. Yes, the Democrats once again bring out the filibuster threat…but even so rank a partisan as Markos Moulitsas has said “…the Republicans have the White House and a solid majority in the Senate. If we want to stop the Roberts of the world in the future we have to do so at the ballot box. The Roberts battle was lost in 2004, 2002, and 2000.”
Ultimately, this is all that matters. Words, as Timothy said, may soothe the base, but action, even if taken, will be an empty gesture. Captain Ed recognizes this, but sees the higher profile of a Supreme Court battle as a negative. Perhaps it will be, but I suspect it won’t…we have to remember that the majority of the public will support a reasonable nominee, just as they supported Roberts, and it is the Democrats that will take most of the political risk should they choose the filibuster course.
Needless to say, we’ll be watching closely for the selection, perhaps by the end of the week, of O’Connor’s replacement…