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May 23, 2005

On the Filibuster Compromise

By Byron LaMasters

While I don't like the compromise, it was probably the second best solution for Democrats (with the best solution being a defeat of the proposed rule, but from what I've read - Reid only had 49 or at best 50 votes, so Frist would have won).

My guess is that Reid signed off on this at the last minute, and then prepared to declare victory. I'm disappointed that three right-wing activist judges will be confirmed, but most importantly, senate tradition has been preserved, and that Democrats will have the option of filibustering a radical Supreme Court appointment. In addition, two more right-wing judges will either be defeated or withdrawn. Furthermore, this is a huge defeat for Bill Frist. He's already an anathema to Democrats of all stripes, and now the far-right James Dobson / theocrat wing of the Republican Party are hyperventilating over Frist's failure to unite the GOP caucus.

Reid's statement is great:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) released the following statement Monday after 14 senators struck a deal to avert the nuclear option and allow votes on certain judicial nominees.

“There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called 'nuclear option' is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.

“The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undue influences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican 'nuclear option' from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.

“Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our Founding Fathers’ vision, and one we hold dear.

“I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside their differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy.

“I am grateful to my colleagues who worked so hard to achieve this agreement. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people’s business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree’s pensions and long-term retirement security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts up all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people’s reform agenda. Together, we can get the job done.”

The full text of the agreement is here.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at May 23, 2005 10:09 PM | TrackBack


You really think that Senate Dems will be able to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee? Seems to me that if Brown or Owen don't count under "extraordinary circumstances," then noone else Bush appoints will either.

Posted by: Drew at May 23, 2005 10:54 PM

I doubt it. What is most likely to happen is that President Bush would only nominate a Supreme Court Justice that the 6 or 7 Dems of the 12/14 "moderates" would pledge not to filibuster. The deal forces Bush to deal with Democrats (albeit conservative Democrats) in future court picks, whichs makes them likely to be more moderate and less extreme.

Posted by: Byron L at May 23, 2005 11:28 PM

Since 2000, how many times have Congressional Republicans compromised on anything that they weren't absolutely forced to?
I really don't think there would have been a compromise if Frist thought he had all the votes he needed.

In the end, Frist was robbed of a high visibility opportunity to pander to Protestant fundamentalists.
And being forced to cave in to the few remaining moderates in his caucus doesn't make him look quite as strong as he'd like to appear.

Posted by: Tim Z. at May 24, 2005 01:55 AM

I personally find delight in Reid's labeling of these potential candidates as "activist judges" because - after all - that's what they're already proved to be.

Posted by: Jake at May 24, 2005 02:17 AM

Kudos to those 14 senators for compromising. No one got what they wanted and everyone had to give up something. That's what compromise is all about. These Senators should be applauded for their willingness to set aside egos amidst all the bull that surrounds DC in order to find a workable solution. Everyone on both sides of the aisle should be happy. Those who are not pleased definitely will prove themselves to be ideologues of the worst order. Its almost guaranteed that those who are unhappy with this compromise will bill themselves as "principled" or "disciplined" or something like that, but the truth is that people who don't see this as a win-win are stubborn, short-sighted, and selfish. We should all commened the Senate for being the adults in Washington. President Bush has been all talk and no action with his "uniter not a divider" and "reach across the aisle" rhetoric. Finally, the Senate steps up to the plate and does what should be done more often in all branches.

Posted by: dude spellings at May 24, 2005 04:09 AM

Seven Democratic Senators chose their country over their party. Good for them. Seems to be a lot of 'red' state Senators signing on here. And what a price to pay; A sweep of the five southern senate races in 2004, and the loss of the Minority Leader, all for what? This 'compromise'? Why filibuster these judges on principle only to 'compromise'? The principle not worthy, or not principled practitioners?

Some other people chosing their country over their party:

"The candidate is Otto Banks, a 33-year-old African-American and the biggest vote-getter in Harrisburg, a predominantly black and overwhelmingly Democratic city where a Republican hasn't been elected to the city council in nearly 20 years.
Like everyone else on the all-black city council, Mr. Banks was a Democrat -- that is, until this March when he announced he had become disenchanted and was joining the Republicans."


"WSJ LocalNews Click here.

Monday, May 23, 2005
Former state Democratic party chairman changes to GOP

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - Former state Democratic Party chairman Lawrence Davis has switched his affiliation to the Republican Party, saying his personal position on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion differed from those of Democrats."

Good news always travels in threes.

Posted by: peter at May 24, 2005 05:13 AM

"Seven Democratic Senators chose their country over their party."

*** More like Seven Democratic Senators chose to sell out their party. Frist wouldn't have compromised if he had the votes.


Posted by: Parker at May 24, 2005 05:37 AM

Frist wouldn't have compromised if he had the votes.

Precisely. If Frist had the votes he would've called the question. He knew he had at least six defections (in a caucus of 55 with Cheney breaking the tie).

Though I disagree with the rest of Parker's comment; Frist stressed he was not party to any compromise (at least that's what he said on the Senate floor last night). He got worked by the Senate moderates, who have now established themselves as a powerful bloc. We'll see how effective they are again this summer when Rehnquist's replacement is nominated.

And it damn sure wasn't the Democrats who lost.

Posted by: PDiddie at May 24, 2005 06:38 AM

Guys, FRIST didn't compromise. McCain and the other 6 made the deal without Frist's permission. He is NOT happy about this development.

Posted by: Drew at May 24, 2005 07:15 AM

Byron, as to your post, here's where the flaw in your reasoning is. The Senate Republicans involved in this deal only have to abide by it as long as the Democrats do. This requires individual judgment on each of their parts. If enough of the moderate Republicans decide that a SC nominee is in fact NOT too extreme, or that it is not an extraordinary circumstance, then they can threaten and follow through with a rule change.

Posted by: Drew at May 24, 2005 07:23 AM

"Seven Democratic Senators chose their country over their party. Good for them. Seems to be a lot of 'red' state Senators signing on here."

This also could have been written...

Seven Republican Senators chose their country over their party. Good for them. Seems to be a lot of 'blue' and 'purple' state Senators signing on here.


Posted by: Tim Z. at May 24, 2005 12:43 PM

Tim, How's Illinios? What's happening with the "City Truck" case in the courts up there? Will Rahm Emmanual be able to steer clear? Yeah, I knew it could be reversed when I typed it. But the only purple I see is on "Episode III", on a light sabre.

Posted by: peter at May 24, 2005 06:23 PM

peter, Mayor Daley is down to a 53% approval rating. We're worried because that puts him only ten points ahead of Dubya's national rating.
BTW, Arizona is a purple state, just to name one. Ask Gov. Janet Napolitano if you don't believe me. :P

SO glad you brought up Ep III.
If you don't read Ezra Klein's blog you might have missed his link to this political critique of "Revenge of the Sith"...

Of course everybody can see the link between Bush and Palpatine. But this is the first time I heard anybody compare Dubya to Jar-Jar Binks.

Posted by: Tim Z. at May 24, 2005 06:51 PM

i can't really see the comparison between bush and palpatine. now rove and palpatine, i can see that comparison.

Posted by: Sal D at May 24, 2005 07:27 PM
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