January 23, 2006

RAGE AGAINST THE MAVERICK (via David Hilll, The Bronx)

Gang of 14 defused threat of filibusters: Alito's likely confirmation due in part to bipartisan group (James Kuhnhenn, January 22, 2006, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

[T]he Gang of 14 can claim considerable credit. They may have set a new standard for the confirmation of Supreme Court justices -- or restored an old one where bipartisan comity prevailed.

Simply put, the Gang of 14 agreed that only under "extraordinary circumstances" should a Senate minority attempt to block a judicial nomination by filibuster.

"It changed the paradigm," said Sen. Ben Nelson, the conservative Nebraska Democrat who helped to organize the bipartisan deal. "For me, the bar is now higher" for a filibuster. [...]

Bush and Senate Democrats have been building to this moment for five years. It began during the 2000 presidential campaign when Bush held up conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as his models for the Supreme Court.

In response, during Bush's first term Senate Democrats filibustered 10 of his appellate court nominees whom they deemed too conservative to serve.

Conservatives reacted by pushing the Senate Republican leadership to exercise a "nuclear option" that would ban senators from being able to wage judicial filibusters at all.

But Senate traditionalists of both parties viewed that threat as an unacceptable infringement on the Senate's hallowed right of extended debate.

The bipartisan Gang of 14 defused that time bomb.

The seven Republicans among them said they'd never support a bid to change Senate rules to ban the filibuster so long as their seven Democratic partners refused to support a filibuster except in "extraordinary circumstances." [...]

"It put the onus on Democrats, put the burden on them to figure out how to explain what was so extraordinary about the people they want to filibuster," said Ron Cass, chairman of the pro-Alito legal group Center for the Rule of Law.

Alito's activist detractors, meanwhile, rage about the gang.

"The point of the deal was to preserve the filibuster for a bad Supreme Court nominee," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

"If someone as extreme as Alito . . . cannot be filibustered, then I don't know who could ever be filibustered."

Ms Gandy could almost be a member of the Stupid Party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2006 8:13 AM

Doesn't seem like something that would even get a lot of people all fired up about ousting Joe Lieberman this year in Blue State Connecticut, let alone derail a McCain 2008 presidential bid in the general election.

Posted by: John at January 23, 2006 8:28 AM

It helps both with their GOP base.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2006 8:51 AM

"Ms Gandy could almost be a member of the Stupid Party."

Err, she is.

Posted by: Genecis at January 23, 2006 2:42 PM

Genecis: Evil Party.

Posted by: b at January 23, 2006 4:20 PM