Senate Republicans' Bid to Destroy the Filibuster Option
Senate Republicans' Bid to Destroy the Filibuster Option, And Push Through Ultraconservative Federal Judges:
It Seems Likely the "Nuclear Option" Actually Will Be Used
By JOHN W. DEAN
Friday, Apr. 08, 2005
A new political campaign is underway. It was launched this week.
On one side are the Bush White House and Senate conservatives. The White House seeks to pack the federal judiciary with ultra-conservative judges and justices. Ultimately, the goal is to place far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Given the age of several justices, and the poor health of the Chief Justice, one or more vacancies are expected at the end of the current term, in June.)
Toward this goal, Senate Republicans - now enjoying a 55-45 majority due to the 2004 election -- are campaigning to end filibustering of such nominations. This would require a Senate rule change - an option that is referred to candidly as the "nuclear option" and euphemistically (by Republicans) as "the constitutional option." If such a change is sought, it will likely happen when one or more of Bush's pending judicial nominees return to the Senate floor this month
Ironically, it is the conservatives who seek to obliterate the Senate's two-hundred- year-old tradition of unlimited debate. Indeed, they are avid about it: On April 4, an assembly of conservative organizations held a briefing at the National Press Club -- doubtless meant to keep the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
On the other side are Senate Democrats. They are fighting to keep the filibuster precisely so that they can block the Bush White House's nominees. They believe that some of the Bush-nominated ideologues lack the necessary temperament to be a federal judge. ...