Saturday, May 21, 2005

My gut is still telling me the same thing on the filibuster

From the NYT today...

In a speech on the Senate floor, Mr. Specter, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made an impassioned call for a deal to avoid the rule change, commonly known as the "nuclear option," warning that it could "do substantial damage to the institution."

The negotiations among senators from both parties center on a possible agreement for six Republicans to forswear the rule change in exchange for six Democrats agreeing to filibuster judicial nominees only in "extraordinary circumstances." Six senators from each party together have enough votes to block both moves, but the meaning of "extraordinary circumstances" is a big sticking point...

Mr. Specter joined 17 other Republicans in filing a motion to end debate on Justice Owen's nomination. In an interview, he said that he remained uncommitted either way. "I haven't said how I am going to vote, and I don't intend to," he said.

Mr. Specter indicated that he was being circumspect so that Dr. Frist and Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, both have an incentive to bargain. "I think it is very important that neither leader knows how the vote is going to turn out."

Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia and a Senate elder, is working with Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia and the longest-serving member of the chamber, on a plan to designate for the president a pool of qualified judicial candidates who might win confirmation more easily.

Frist knows he doesn't know he has the votes, and is still going ahead with this. That means that he, himself, sees this as a win-win: even if he loses, he gets enormous prestige from the folks who opened their purses for D. James Kennedy's Roy Moore fundraising stunt.

Which means that, for all intents and purposes, it's more likely to fail than not fail.

Note though that they're focusing in on the right issue with the pool of candidates: the filibuster exists precisely as a check on the Executive branch's possible (and in the Bush case actual) failure to heed the Senate's advice. That to me also says, the filibuster for judges ain't going away.

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